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Full text of "The relief of Ladysmith"

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H^arbarli CoUege libratD* 

FROM THE 

MiVRY OSGOOD LEGACY. 

* * To purchase such books as shall be most 

needed for the College Library, so as 

best to promote the objects 

of the College." 

'^ 

Received -...^'^....k^^<jU/--;-j-^^ 



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THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 



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GENERAL RT. HON. SIK REDVSMS HENRV BUI.LER, V.C, C.C.B., K.C.M.G., K.CB. 



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THE 
RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 



JOHN BLACK ^TKINS 

AUTHOR OF **THB WAR IN CDBA" 



WITH AM IMTRODUCnON, MAPS, PLANS, AND ILLUSTRATIONS 



SECOND EDITION, REVISED 



METHUEN & CO. 
36, ESSEX STREET W.C. 
LONDON 
1900 



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3 \V OjNj^ \\j:ccx cro-cL -; ^.^-^.^ dL 



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TO 
MY FATHER AND MOTHER 



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PREFACE 

1AM indebted to the proprietors of the 
Manchester Guardian for permission to re- 
produce the following letters and several of the 
plans and sketches which illustrate them. I have 
thought it better to leave the letters as nearly 
as possible in their original form ; they are simply 
unofficial dispatches, written in camp under all the 
difficulties that oppress the pen in the neighbour- 
hood of the sword. If in speculations or assertions 
I have gone astray, I venture to let the mistakes 
stand. The reader, recognising them, will allow 
them a certain historical value as the common 
beliefs of the moment, or will pin his faith to them 
only until he finds them rebuked in later chapters. 
In this way the letters may perhaps preserve an 
" actuality " of which industry might rob them ; 
if the reader perseveres he will, I hope, find sooner 

vii 



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viii PREFACE 

or later the natural explanation of every error, 
and the campaign will unfold itself before his eye 
as it did before my own. The letters, with the 
introduction contributed by one of my colleagues, 
form a continuous narrative of events from the 
b^inning of the war to the relief of Ladysmith. 

J. B. A. 
Ladysmith, March 4, 1900 



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION 

The issue of a second edition allows an oppor- 
tunity of adding to "The Relief of Ladysmith" 
a map of Natal and a Postscript recording some 
general impressions of the campaign. Two small 
corrections, formerly noted in an Appendix, have 
now been made in their proper places, and the 
official despatches relating to the British reverse 
at Spion Kop, which were published in the London 
Gazette of April 17, 1900, are reprinted at the end 
of the book. 



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CONTENTS 



PAGB 

INTRODUCTION: HOW LADYSMITH GAME TO BB BBSIBGED I 

« 

CHAP. 

I. BOUND FOR THB SBAT OF WAR . . -25 

II. ON TO THE FRONT ..... 36 

III. EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS . . -59 

IV. THE WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT . . 93 

V. FORWARD, BY THE GRACE OF THE ENEMY 1 . I08 

VI. WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH . . . II9 

VII. THE EVE OF THE FIRST ASSAULT . . •134 

VIII. THE BATTLE OF COLENSO . . . • 147 

IX. WAITING AGAIN *. WITH A CAMP INTERLUDE . 181 

X. WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND . . . . I96 

XI. ACROSS THE TUGELA .... 212 

XII. THE BATTLES OF VENTBR'S SPRUIT AND SPION 

KOP . . . . . 224 

XIII. WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ, AND FAIL AGAIN . 246 

XIV. THB " FIGHTING MARCH " ON MONTE CHRISTO . 266 
XV. THB BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL . . . 280 

XVI. THE BATTLE OF PIBTER'S . • • -304 

POSTCRIPT . . . . . . -317 

APPENDICES ....... 329 



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 
MAPS AND PLANS 

PAOB 
^GBNBRAL RT. HON. SIR R. H.BULLBR, V.C, G.C.B., K.C.M.G., 

x:.c.B. {photoiraph by knight^ Akkrshot) . FrcnHs^tce 

*^GBNBRAL SIR GBORGB STBWART WHITB, V.C., O.C.I.B., 

G.C.B., G.C.S.I. .... (phot^rt^h) I 

^THB ARMOURBD TRAIN DISASTBR {Jrom a descHpHm by 

MS. WmSTOH CHURCHILL) (by F. A. STBWARl) 74 

^ MAJOR-GBN. SIR C. F. CLBRY, K.C.B. . . •147 

^FLAN OP THB BATTLB OF GOLBNSO •154 

^ SAVING THB GUNS AT COLBNSO {by F, A. STEWART) 1 72 

'-THB LATB GBNBRAL JOUBBRT [by MISS SCHIVARTZS) l8o 

"PLAN ILLUSTRATING WARRBN'S OPBRATIONS . . 22$ 

''THB NIGHT ATTACK ON SFION KOP {by F, A, STEWART) 236 
^SKBTCH PLANS OF THB BATTLB OF SPION KOP . . 239 

^ THB SURGBONS BBOIN THBIR NIGHT'S WORK 

{py F. A. STEWART) 244 
•- PLAN OF THB BATTLB OF VAAL KRANTZ . . 249 

/- CAPTURB OF VAAL KRANTZ BY DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY 

{by F, A. STBWART) 260 
» DISTRICT BBTWBBN COLBNSO AND LADYSUITH • . 304 

'^FLAN OF THB BATTLB OP PIBTBR'S . • 309 

•- MBBTING of GBNBRAL BULLBR AND GBNBRAL WHITB IN 

LADYSMITH (by F. A, STEWART) 3I4 

'^MAP OF NORTH NATAL • .328 



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GENERAL SIR GEORGE STEWART WHITE, V.C. G.C.I.B., G.C.B., G.C.S.L 



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^ 



INTRODUCTION 

HOW LADYSMITH CAME TO BE 
BESIEGED 

LITTLE anxiety was felt in England on the 
outbreak of war. We should make no 
headway (the more cautious said) until the arrival 
of the Army Corps, but we should at least hold 
our own unless it were at Mafeking. The Boers, 
it was thought, had let slip their opportunity. 
Had they sent their ultimatum a month earlier, 
they might have lost an excuse for war, but they 
would certainly have conquered a colony. Happily, 
Natal was no longer defenceless. Sir George White 
was there in command of one of the finest armies 
ever seen in South Africa. The military authorities 
had had ample warning, and there were no be- 
leaguered garrisons at Potchefstroom or Pretoria, 
as in the last war, to tempt them to generous 
rashness. If Sir George Colley had sought to 
B ^ 



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2 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

force Laing's Nek and invade the Transvaal with 
an army of fourteen hundred men, what fear was 
there that Sir George White would not hold his 
own with fourteen thousand, and these disposed 
presumably for the purposes of scientific defence, 
some fifty miles to the rear of our headquarters in 
the last war? Only a very few in England 
troubled to inquire further into the facts, and the 
feeling of security was strengthened by the first 
reports of Dundee and Elandslaagte. The retreat 
from Dundee was, for most of us in England, 
the first unmistakable proof that our dispositions in 
Northern Natal were unsound. A little later 
Nicholson's Nek converted the field army for the 
defence of Natal into the garrison of an unimportant 
town, and Colenso put all Englishmen in the fear 
of a great military calamity, a fear which tightened 
its grip upon us as week succeeded week and 
Ladysmith was still unrelieved. 

It is easy now to read the warnings of the map. 
A better field than Natal for the operations of the 
allies could not have been designed. No other 
British colony has two frontiers, one with the 
Transvaal and another with the Orange Free 
State, nowhere else could the allies, advancing 



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INTRODUCTION 3 

each from his own base, combine in a simultaneous 
forward movement. The ground, moreover, suits 
Boer tactics, and the very shape of the frontiers, 
which already north of the Tugela seemed to yield 
and contract under growing pressure from either 
flank, plainly invited those enveloping movements 
which are the beginning and end of Boer strategy. 
Indeed, had the allies neglected all their other 
frontiers and thrown their whole strength into 
Natal, they might still have overrun the colony, 
and exchanged shots at Durban with the fleet 
itself. The siege of Mafeking was the first and the 
greatest mistake made by the Boers in the war. 

The colonists of Northern Natal, as was natural 
for men who lived over the embers of the last war, 
were the first to realise their danger, and as early as 
May, 1S99, the mining interests of Dundee and 
Newcastle represented to the Natal Ministry their 
defenceless condition. But the strategic conditions 
of Northern Natal were then imperfectly under- 
stood by the British Government Any invasion 
of Natal, replied Sir Alfred Milner to the Natal 
Ministry, when he learned the fears of the colonists, 
would of course be resisted by the whole forces of 
the Empire, and Mr. Chamberlain telegraphed 



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4 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

approval of his reply. To the Colonial Office it 
was only a patriotic truism, but it was very much 
more to Natal. It was in fact construed as a 
pledge that no portion of Natal should be 
abandoned for lack of preparation or for the 
general purposes of the campaign. But as the 
danger of war grew more real, it was seen that the 
pledge — if pledge it was in intention — could not 
possibly be redeemed. A whole army corps 
would scarcely have sufficed to bar all those doors 
into Natal, each liable to spring open at any 
moment and admit an enemy to the defender's 
flank or rear. Concentration of our military strength 
in Natal and a policy of vigorous offence might 
have solved the problem of defence, and satisfied 
the pledge ; but it had been decided for very good 
military reasons that the offensive operations should 
be directed not from Natal but from Cape Colony. 
And so what seemed a political truism in May was 
military folly in October. The practical question 
was not whether all Natal should be defended in the 
event of war, but how much should be abandoned. 
Not without some complaints from the colonists 
Charlestown and Newcastle were abandoned, and 
our most northern military station was fixed at 



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INTRODUCTION 5 

Dundee, forty-six miles north of Ladysmith, and 
sixty miles south of Laing's Nek. The defence 
of Dundee was a concession to the mining 
interest, but Sir George White had doubts of its 
propriety from the moment of his arrival in Natal. 
Dundee might have served as an advance post 
against invasion from the Transvaal alone; but 
when it became certain that the Free State 
would fight, and that Ladysmith would be 
threatened not only from the north, but from 
the Drakensberg Passes on the west as well, its 
retention offended against his military instinct 
On the evening of October loth, the day on 
which the Ultimatum was received, he approached 
the Governor, and forcibly urged the with- 
drawal of the garrison. Unfortunately the Natal 
Ministry was too deeply committed to let Dundee 
go the way of Newcastle and Charlestown. 
Political reasons were urged against the abandon- 
ment ; and Sir George White yielded against 
his better judgment Thirty-six hours later the 
Boers invaded Natal. 

There was one chance of success, and only one. 
Sir George White saw that the difficulties of 
transport through the mountain passes would 



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6 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

prevent the Boers from entering Natal in a single 
column ; and that if they wished to make full use 
of the strategic advantages of their positions, 
they would have to invade in at least three 
columns — a column through the Drakensberg 
Passes on the west, another from the north, and 
perhaps a third from the Buffalo Drifts on the 
east His single chance lay in taking these 
columns in detail. If he could force the Free State 
Boers to an engagement, and defeat them, he 
might hope to draw some of the Transvaal Boers 
from Natal into the Free State, or if they left 
their allies in the lurch, and persisted in the 
invasion, he could leave a small garrison at Lady- 
smith and hurry the main body of his army up to 
Dundee and the Biggarsberg. But if these, as one 
may suppose, were the hopes that induced him 
to consent to the retention of Dundee, a very 
few days must have convinced him that they were 
not destined to be fulfilled. The Free State 
Boers remained in the shelter of the difficult 
country at the foot of the Drakensbei^ Passes, 
obstinately declining an engagement, yet never 
ceasing to menace Ladysmith. It soon became 
obvious that the Boers were aware of the fault in 



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INTRODUCTION 7 

our dispositions, and were no less anxious than 
Sir George White to take the opposing forces in 
detail. There were at this time nine thousand men 
at Ladysmith, and four thousand, under General 
Symons, were encamped along the short branch 
line between Glencoe and Dundee. The isola- 
tion of General Symons became the first object 
of the invasion. 

The Transvaal Boers entered Natal in three 
columns. The main column under General 
Joubert crossed Laing's Nek and occupied Charles- 
town, and, a day or two later, Newcastle. 
Another column under Viljoen entered by Botha's 
Pass, moved south through the Biggarsberg, 
and cut the railway between Glencoe and 
Ladysmith. At the same time a column from 
Wakkerstroom crossed the Buffalo River, which 
forms the frontier of Natal to the east, and 
advanced upon JDundee. The plan was to attack 
Dundee simultaneously from the north and the 
east, while the Free State Boers held Sir 
George White at Ladysmith, and Viljoen's force 
prevented the retreat of the garrison south, or 
the arrival of any small reinforcements that could 
be spared from Ladysmith. 



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8 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Fortunately, the movements were badly timed. 
Lukas Meyer seized Talana Hill before dawn on 
Friday, October 20tlL Viljoen had already 
succeeded in cutting the railway at Elands- 
laagte in the afternoon of Thursday, but the 
main body under Joubert did not reach Dundee 
until Saturday. This was the first of the two 
blunders that saved the garrison. 

General Symons's pickets had been falling back 
for some days along the road from Newcastle 
before the main Boer army advancing from the 
north, and Viljoen's force had given notice of its 
approach by driving in an outpost at Glencoe on 
its way southwards to Elandslaagte. But the first 
warning of danger from the east was not given 
until early in the morning on the day of the attack, 
when a Mounted Infantry picket near one of the 
Buffalo Drifts was fired upon and forced to retire. 
At five o'clock all General Symons's men were 
under arms, and a few minutes later the Boer 
artillery opened fired from Talana Hill, east of the 
town, at a range of three thousand yards. An 
artillery duel followed, and just before nine General 
Symons gave the order for an attack on the hill. 
There was not a moment to lose, for General 



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INTRODUCTION 9 

Symons did not know how soon the more for- 
midable attack from the north might be delivered 
Leaving the Leicestershire Regiment to guard the 
camp, he moved out against the hill with his other 
battalions, the King's Rifles, the Dublin Fusiliers, 
and the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Talana is a hill 
eight hundred feet high, situated on the north 
side of a nek which the east road crosses before 
it dips down to the Buffalo River. It is a typical 
South African hill, with a broad, flat top, and 
a precipitous ascent up the last few hundred 
feet Round the base of the steep slope runs 
a stone wall, and the lower and gentler slopes 
are clothed with a wood. The wood was 
easily gained by the advancing troops, but for a 
long time the exposed belt between the wood and 
the stone wall was impassable ; here it was that 
the gallant Symons, who had advanced with his 
reserves into the firing line, fell mortally wounded. 
At the wall another long halt occurred, but by 
half-past eleven our artillery had silenced the 
enemy's guns and was able to move forward to 
within a range of a mile. The fire from the top of 
the hill now slackened, and the infantry rushed 
forward, scaling the precipitous slopes on hands 



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10 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

and knees. Talana Hill was won. It was a great 
achievement, but it was sadly marred by the 
loss of Symons and by the events of the afternoon. 
When the artillery reached the nek, the Boers 
were flying round the far side of the hill in parties 
of fifty and a hundred within easy range, but the 
fugitives escaped under a white flag. Later in the 
day Colonel Moller, who early in the morning had 
moved round the hill with the 1 8th Hussars in 
order to intercept the retreat, came into contact 
with the main Boer force to the north, and was 
forced to surrender with two hundred men. Our 
losses were forty-five killed and 184 wounded, 
besides the prisoners ; and though Lukas Meyer's 
column was completely broken up, the fate of 
Colonel Moller and the Hussars warned General 
Yule, who had succeeded General Symons, that a 
more formidable attack might begin at any 
moment 

Sir George White learned on Thursday night 
that Viljoen's column had cut the line between 
Ladysmith and Dundee, and a reconnaissance by 
General French on Friday discovered the enemy's 
position near the Elandslaagte collieries. A second 
reconnaissance, the next morning, showed that the 



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INTRODUCTION n 

enemy was in greater strength than had been 
expected, and reinforcements were hastily sent up 
the line. The Boers occupied a strong position on 
a ridge which lies at right angles with the railway 
line, and about two thousand yards distant from it 
Sir George White came up with the reinforce- 
ments, but he generously yielded the direction 
of the operations to General French. 

It was decided to make a combined frontal and 
flank attack on the Boer position. The frontal 
attack was assigned to the Devonshire Regiment, 
which was skilfully led by Major Park across the 
plain to the foot of the ridge held by the Boers, 
where it lay in extended formation, taking cover 
behind ant-hills. Meanwhile the Manchesters and 
the Gordons, supported by the Imperial Light 
Horse, were marching along a rocky spur of the 
main ridge to turn the enemy's left At the 
beginning of the march they found good cover 
behind the boulders, but about three-quarters of a 
mile from the enemy's camp they came to a patch ol 
gfround two hundred yards wide, destitute of cover 
and dusted with bullets. Across this they ran, 
bending under the storm, to the cover of a shoulder 
of the hill, up the shoulder, and on to the plateau 



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12 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

beyond, down again into a fold of the hill, and 
then up the final ascent. The Devons now took 
up the attack from the front, and the enemy's 
position was carried at the point of the bayonet 
And so was won the most complete British victory 
of this war before the relief of Kimberley. Out of 
a force barely exceeding i,ooo men the Boers lost 
lOO killed, io8 wounded, and i88 prisoners, includ- 
ing Commandants Schiel and Kock ; and their 
camp, with all its equipment and two guns, was 
captured. Our losses were fifty-five killed and 207 
wounded. 

The troops bivouacked on the field under 
pouring rain. The same night found General 
Yule's men also away from their camp, bivouack- 
ing on the open hill-side. Joubert's long-range 
guns had opened fire from Mount Impati on our 
troops at Dundee in the afternoon, just when the 
Highland and Manchester regiments were reaching 
the summit of the Elandslaagte hills, and the 
victors of Talana had been forced to abandon 
their camp and to move out of range. The 
blunder of occupying Dundee had been expiated, 
but not vindicated. Relief from Ladysmith was 
impossible with the Free State forces still un- 



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INTRODUCTION 13 

defeated, and for General Yule to hold Dundee 
without reinforcements was equally impossible. 
There was no alternative but retreat, and retreat 
in the face of an enemy superior in numbers is one 
of the most difficult of all military operations. 

There are two roads from Dundee to Ladysmith. 
The shorter runs west to Glencoe Junction, and 
then turns south through a gap on the Biggars- 
berg, crossing and recrossing the railway line until 
Ladysmith is reached. The other road runs south- 
east in the direction of Helpmakaar, and turns 
abruptly west at Beith. The first road was blocked 
by the enemy at Glencoe Pass, but by a strange 
oversight the second had been left unguarded. 
This was the second blunder that saved the 
garrison at Dundee. At nine o'clock on Sunday 
night, General Yule's column started on its peri- 
lous retreat, and at dawn the next day it had 
travelled eight miles. The rains had converted the 
whole countryside into a quagmire ; but General 
Yule pushed on. A march in the afternoon 
brought the column to the cross-roads at Beith. 
The march had not yet been molested, but 
Waschbank Pass, the most critical part of the 
journey, lay ahead. Prudence counselled another 



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14 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

night march, and on Tuesday morning — bnly five 
days after the brilliant engagement at Dundee — 
the troops encamped in open country near 
Waschbank Spruit, now swollen to a torrent 

No attempt had yet been made by the Trans- 
vaal Boers to follow up the retreat; but on 
Tuesday the Free State Boers threatened to 
cross the main road between Glencoe and Lady- 
smith, and assail the flank of the retreating 
column. Sir George White accordingly moved 
out from Ladysmith and fought a flank action 
at Rietfontein, on the northern slopes of Intin« 
tanyone, to cover the retreat His object was 
attained, and two days later General Yule's 
troops entered Ladysmith by the road over 
Lombard's Nek, travel-stained and dog-tired, but 
still unbeaten by the enemy. 

The army of Natal had fought three successful 
actions merely to secure the concentration for 
which Sir George White had pleaded before the 
war began. Its victories had been barren. It is 
true that no retreat from Dundee would have been 
possible but for the victory of Elandslaagte, and 
had General Symons — left alas ! at Dundee to die 
in the enemy's hands — delayed a few hours to 



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INTRODUCTION 15 

make the attack on Talana Hill, there would have 
been no garrison of Dundee to retreat But these 
results were not the genuine ripe fruits of victory, 
for they might have been gathered without cost 
before the war b^an. Nor if we attach import- 
ance to the good moral effects of victory, how- 
ever barren it may be of material results, can we 
deny the bad moral effects of a retreat, however 
skilfully conducted. General Yule's retreat was 
a miracle of good luck and good management, and 
its merits have not been esteemed as they deserve. 
But its effect was none the less to depress spirits, 
and not all Joubert's courtesy could quite reconcile 
the troops to the hard necessity of abandoning 
their wounded. The explanation of our strategic 
defeat most affected at the time in England was 
that the Boer operations were the conception of a 
military genius, and many guesses were made at 
his name. But that theory will not bear examina- 
tion. The general plan was good, but its execution 
was marred by several blunders. Two detach- 
ments had been exposed to defeat in detail, and 
the garrison of Dundee had, after all, been allowed 
to escape. Not until the battles of Nicholson's 
Nek and Farquhar's Farm did the Boer leaders 



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i6 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

display really high qualities of generalship in the 
field. But the Boer blunders, great as they were, 
availed us nothing after our cardinal blunder in 
attempting to hold Dundee. 

Sir George White had now concentrated his 
forces at Ladysmith. Unfortunately, his position 
was by no means so favourable as it would have 
been had the concentration been effected before 
the war broke out A fortnight had been lost, and 
time is never so valuable as at the beginning of a 
campaign ; the necessity of watching Dundee had 
prevented him from giving his undivided attention 
to the Free State Boers on his left flank ; the rail- 
way line had been kept free for the retreat of the 
Dundee garrison until it was too late to destroy it, 
and the Boers were now advancing rapidly along 
it In war it is never possible wholly to repair 
the ill effects of faulty dispositions. Sir George 
White had barely time to unite his forces before 
the Boers were upon him. General Yule's wearied 
troops were still resting after their arduous march 
when Sir George White made his first reconnais- 
sance of the main Boer army under Joubert 
Closer acquaintance, moreover, with the country 
round Ladysmith must have filled him with 



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INTRODUCTION 17 

serious misgivings for the future. The strategic 
position of the town was not unimportant, for it 
was the junction of the railways from the Free 
State and the Transvaal. But it was not a good 
military centre for the defence of Natal, and a 
worse place to defend against attack could hardly 
have been found. Surrounded on all sides by tiers 
of hills, an outer tier much too wide to defend, and 
an inner tier still too extensive for defence by a 
comparatively small army, and commanded by the 
outer tier, Ladysmith invited a siege, and was ill- 
adapted to sustain it Sir George White must 
often have looked anxiously at Bulwana and 
Lombard's Kop. When once the Boers had 
obtained possession of that outer circle of hills 
and mounted their guns of position upon it, a 
field force in Ladysmith, equipped with ordinary 
field artillery, would be virtually caught in a trap ; 
and but for Sir George White's prescience in 
sending for naval guns nothing could have saved 
Ladysmith. The outer circle of hills not only 
increased the difficulties of defending the town 
against a siege, but also made an admirable screen 
for the movements of the enemy ; and already the 
Free State Boers had begun cautiously to work 
C 



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i8 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

round his left in the direction of Colenso. He 
badly missed the protection of some natural 
barrier, such as a river or a chain of moun- 
tains; and, indeed, had he been free to select 
his position he might perhaps have retired 
behind the Tugela. But he was never free. 
Stores had been accumulated in the town ; so 
long as there was a garrison at Dundee, retreat 
south of the Tugela had been out of the question, 
and when the concentration had been effected it 
was too late to think of withdrawal. And when 
he remembered how the people of Natal believed 
that we had promised to defend all their frontiers, 
how disappointed they had been when Charlestown 
and Newcastle were abandoned, and how they had 
held out for the protection of Dundee, how could 
he entertain the idea of a hurried retreat from 
Ladysmith just after Dundee had been' sacrificed ? 
Sir George White, then, was irrevocably committed 
to the defence of Ladysmith. 

To act strictly on the defensive was to be 
surrounded ; and it was impossible for the 
general of a victorious army to submit to that 
without a struggle. Sir George White had 
already, when he sent for the naval guns, fore- 



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INTRODUCTION 19 

seen the possibility of a siege. But his army 
was still the field army for the defence of Natal. 
not the garrison of Ladysmith ; and only by a 
policy of vigorous offensive could he preserve 
the freedom of movement that was so necessary 
if Natal south of the Tugela were to be protected 
fix>m invasion. He decided, therefore, to strike 
before the enemy could close round him. 

The Boers had already occupied the outer edge 
of the Intintanyone plateau to the north of Lady- 
smithy and were creeping round Lombard's Kop 
and Bulwana on the east. This encircling move- 
ment Sir George White saw must be checked, 
or the naval guns which he had sent for would 
never reach him. 

On the evening of October 29th Sir George 
White made his dispositions for attack. Five 
battalions of infantry under Colonel Grimwood, 
three regiments of cavalry under General French, 
and four batteries of field artillery, were to dis- 
lodge the Boers from Lombard's Kop. A 
second column under Colonel Hamilton, consisting 
of four battalions of infantry, two regiments 
of cavalry, and four batteries of artillery, was 
to march due north to the enemy's position 



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20 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

on Intintanyone, holding the Boers in check, 
but not attacking unless the development of 
events elsewhere afforded a suitable opportunity. 
Obviously, it was vital to the success of these 
operations that the left flank should be made 
quite secure. Accordingly Colonel Carleton, with 
four and a half companies of the Gloucestershire 
Regiment, six companies of the Royal Irish 
Fusiliers, and a Mountain Battery, was directed 
to march north along Bell's Spruit and to seize 
Nicholson's Nek — a gap in the hills north of 
Ladysmith which, if left unprotected, would have 
afforded the enemy a ready passage round to 
the west of Ladysmith. The object of this 
movement was not to turn the enemy's position, 
but to prevent the enemy from turning ours. All 
three columns left Ladysmith in the early hours 
of October 30th. 

Colonel Grimwood's column reached Lombard's 
Kop at dawn and found it evacuated. The 
abandonment of the Kop in the night by the 
Boers showed that they had had full information 
of our intended movements, and that their plan 
was to entice the column out in the hope of 
separating it from the centre. Even if they were 



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INTRODUCTION 21 

not successful in that, the plan carried with it 
the advantage of drawing General White's 
attention away from Colonel Carleton's small 
column on the left, against which the Boers 
had already laid their plans. But these infer^ 
ences, so obvious now, were by no means so 
obvious then. Finding Lombard's Kop evacuated 
Colonel Grimwood's column followed the Boers 
for six miles before a furious flank attack directed 
against the left of his column revealed their 
stratagem. Fortunately Sir George White, who 
was with the centre, realised the danger in 
time. He ordered Colonel Grimwood to retire, 
and despatched three out of the four regiments 
of infantry forming the centre to cover his retreat. 
The Boer attempt to pierce between the two 
wings was happily defeated, but our troops 
suffered severely, chiefly from the fire of the 
enemy's guns of position. There was a critical 
period in the retirement ; but just when things 
were at their worst the Boer long range guns 
met with their match. The naval guns had 
arrived in Ladysmith that morning and were 
already in action. The two wings were back 
again in Ladysmith by two o'clock in the after- 



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22 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

noon. Sir George White had failed to prevent 
the occupation of Lombard's Kop, and the 
occupation of the whole outer circle of hills by 
the enemy was now only a matter of time. 

But what in the meantime had become of the 
Gloucestershires and the Royal Irish Fusiliers 
under Colonel Carleton? Earlier in the day 
there had been rumours of disaster. The mules of 
the Mountain Battery, it was said, had stampeded, 
and the column had lost all its ammunition. Two 
men of the Gloucestershire Regiment actually 
brought the story to our centre while it was lying 
at the foot of Intintanyone, waiting for the right 
wing to develop its attack. Either the story was 
not believed or it was assumed that Colonel 
Carleton would at once abandon his mission after 
the loss of his ammunition. But when the centre 
and right reached Ladysmith after the failure of 
our movement on Lombard's Kop, it was found 
that Colonel Carleton's column was still out 
Anxiety deepened as the afternoon wore on 
and the column did not return ; and when 
night fell it was certain that we had suffered 
a great disaster. At half-past eleven Sir George 
White sat down in despair and wrote the noble 



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INTRODUCTION 23 

despatch in which he announced the disaster and 
took upon himself the whole blame for what had 
happened. Next morning General Joubert sent a 
messenger into Ladysmith under a flag of truce 
granting us permission to bury the dead and 
remove the wounded. Not until then was the full 
story of the disaster known in Ladysmith — ^how 
the mules had been stampeded by firing in the 
night, how the column had seized and entrenched 
a kopje two miles from the Nek only to find next 
morning that it was commanded on all sides by the 
Boers, and how the men had continued to fight 
until all the ammunition in their pouches was 
exhausted and there was no alternative but 
surrender. Our total losses on October 30th, in 
killed, wounded and missing, were over eleven 
hundred officers and men. 

Two days later the investment of Ladysmith 
was complete. The relief of Ladysmith became the 
chief military interest of the war, the dearest wish 
of English-speaking people all over the world. 
How, after many failures, it was finally ac- 
complished, is told in the pages that follow. 

H. S. 



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CHAPTER I 

BOUND FOR THE SEAT OF WAR 

\ 
R.M.S. DuNOTTAR Castle, 
Cape Town, Tuesday^ October 31^/, 1899. 

THE brains of the army were being packed 
into the trains on that morning of de- 
parture at Waterloo Station. That was why there 
was a crowd so great, so clamorous, and so 
attentive ; and now that I know something more 
about the brains of the army I see that the people 
who thronged the platforms had drawn justification 
out of that strange bag of principles which govern 
the actions of a multitude. It was a valuable 
freight which sped down to Southampton, and 
ever since has been folded within these tiny walls 
and swung and tumbled across the ocean. To 
think of all the brains in one box, and that 
dwindled into a speck and lost for all these days ! 
The box is unprotected too, and I, for one, can 

as 



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26 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

scarcely sight a strange sail without half wondering 
if the Boers have not somehow contrived to have 
just one small ship in waiting to capture the brains 
of the army. But the achievements of modern 
warfare still drag lamely behind romantic fiction ; 
we are safe, the Boers are dull, science is slow, and 
the British Intelligence Division may still boast at 
least some reputation. Of the quality of this 
brilliant staff which is to be the brains of the 
British army operating in South Africa more falls 
to be said in its appropriate place. 

War wears a double face. One face is a mask 
which has been thrust upon it, and this face is all 
laughter ; the other is the natural face of war, and 
it is all tears. The two are not seen as alternatives, 
but always side by side. At Waterloo Station 
there it was — the eternal double face of war. 
Beside a bawling, singing, hatless, perspiring, 
triumphant face, a face straining, clinched, stricken, 
speechless — a face of unfathomed woe. As the 
train moved out of the station the long frieze of 
faces was drawn past one's carriage, the higher 
faces crushed into the architrave formed by the 
top of the carriage window. The first few faces 
were distinct — sad and glad ; but the platform was 



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BOUND FOR THE SEAT OF WAR 27 

incredibly long, the train quickened, and we said 
goodbye to a composite picture. At Southampton, 
again the double face of war. It filled the wharves 
as, the oldest captain said, they had never been 
filled before, and, surging, it craned itself up to the 
vessel's decks ; in the one character it urged us on, 
in the other it beckoned us back. You turned to 
the seaward side, and there was a placid face that 
was only inscrutable. Southampton Water might 
have been a lake that reached to you from the 
foot of the grounds below the white, castled house ; 
the small boats crept softly along under the 
bushes ; the whole thing was elegant and artificial 
and unruffled. 

At last we were off, and then a cry of farewell 
crackled below the ship and spread; along the 
lines it went — ^such a shout as the oldest captain 
had never heard at Southampton before. And 
then we on the Dunottar Castle glided away till 
the screen of faces was watered down into the 
vague solidity of the quay walls. One excursion 
steamer ran alongside us for a few moments ; her 
passengers swarmed at her side to snatch a last 
glimpse of Sir Red vers Buller and his staff; the 
water streamed through the open work of her 



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28 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

paddle-box on that side, the other paddle flapped 
at the water, and the vessel, like a wounded duck, 
fell speedily into our wake. A little later came 
darkness, the red light of the Needles, and then 
the growing roll of the Channel, Thus the brains 
of the army started for South Africa. 

On the monotony — or what we choose to think 
the monotony — of a modem voyage it were useless 
to dwell. Really a sea voyage is almost the only 
means left by which we may easily and suddenly 
escape from end-of-the-century life; it is a time 
to be prized and cherished and used in a new 
and wholly peculiar way; it is a secret door for 
our convenience and our profit Yet most of us 
inexcusably neglect to appreciate it ; our in- 
tolerance of the days spent at sea becomes 
continually greater as science makes a modem 
voyage continually shorter. We reckon time by 
our meals — it is so long after breakfast or before 
dinner — and the daily miracles of the changing 
latitudes are performed in vain. The tropical 
night, not heralded by twilight, shuts down on 
us suddenly, and ten minutes after daylight the 
foam at the vessel's side, now illuminated by the 
electric lights of the ship, is darting in snow-white 



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BOUND FOR THE SEAT OF WAR 29 

patches right and left on to an inky field ; the 
dense clouds of the trade winds, heavily banked 
on the horizon, are at night the most tremendous 
and frowning battlement of the world ; the 
Southern Cross holds a strategic position in the 
sky, and is the private property of the Southern 
peoples. 

But these things are hardly good enough to 
save us from our preoccupying sense of monotony. 
What has the ship herself done for us? The 
passengers are a characteristic ship's company 
bound for the wars. You may suppose that the 
operations of a British army are too regular to 
admit the casual and irregular adventurer. You 
may be right, but the casual adventurer disagrees 
with you. There are at least ten passengers on 
board this ship who mean to find adventure, and 
almost certainly will find it, but at the moment 
they have not the least notion how. 

Where the fighting is, there are the English 
gathered together. I remember how it struck me 
when I was waiting in Thessaly for the Greek war 
to b^in. Every night I dined in a caf(6 where all 
round me was the unintelligible chatter of an 
aviary. Suddenly the war began; four nights 



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30 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

later I dined again in the cafe, and at dinner I 
became conscious that the buzz of the caf£ was 
somehow changed. English, I found on observa- 
tion, was being spoken on my right, also on my 
left, and indeed, when I came to notice it, behind 
me, and — ^yes — in every part of the room. The 
teeth of war had been sown and the harvest of 
armed Englishmen had risen from the ground. 

There are among us names well known in the 
modem history of South Africa. There is, for 
instance, the family of Mr. Woolls-Sampson, most 
implacable enemy of the Boers, renowned for 
having fought that duel with rifles in which he 
received four bullet wounds, and his enemy, the 
Boer, five. The Boer still carries five bullets in his 
body. Later Mr. Sampson was imprisoned as one 
of the Reform Committee. Unlike most of the 
others, he refused to petition for his release, and 
at last, after thirteen months, was released on the 
occasion of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Now 
he is major of the Imperial Light Horse. 

A mutograph — that is the name hit upon for the 
instrument which takes the continuous photographs 
for the biograph — ^is a familiar figure of the decks ; 
a huge square box of a camera, on an iron tripod. 



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BOUND FOR THE SEAT OF WAR 31 

which is found on examination to be full of burring 
electrical works. It looks as though it would 
require a team of artillery horses to bring it into 
action on the field, and its crew of three men have 
more than once been unable to train it in time on 
a ship that grew rapidly up from the horizon. But 
it will be limbered and unlimbered rapidly enough, 
no doubt, when the time comes, for to-day we could 
scarcely go to war without it On some afternoons 
it has been placed so as to command the hurricane 
deck, where the General, his staff, and the rest of 
us promenade before dinner. " You can catch me 
if you can," says the Greneral, " but I won't pose for 
you." Perhaps he was caught, perhaps he was not, 
but if caught it was with a shoal of small fry. 

All day the staff officers study technical writings, 
examine maps, and lay their heads together, and 
on to such solemn confabulations perhaps drift 
the strains of the intermezzo from " Cavalleria 
Rusticana" performed, with one finger, in the 
music saloon. A quoit thrown at a bucket strikes 
and incenses an eminent cartographer whose head 
is bowed in meditation. Such ridiculous contrasts 
are inevitable on a passenger ship which carries the 
brains of the army. 



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32 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

The doctors have been quite busy. They have 
lectured to us on the efficacy and advisability of 
inoculation against enteric fever, pointing out that 
the statistics gathered during the epidemic at 
Maidstone were overwhelmingly convincing. And 
at the end of each lecture some of us have ranged 
ourselves in a line, and as we passed the arch- 
doctor sitting before his little witches' cauldron 
each of us was stabbed in the side with the 
hypodermic syringe dipped in the typhoid serum. 
One inoculation protects you from typhoid; two 
inoculations, we are told, secure you against it for 
at least two years. My own symptoms after 
receiving the minute wound were the symptoms of 
others — first an Elysian lassitude, and then head- 
ache and fever for perhaps twenty-four hours. 
After that nothing remained but stiffiiess in the 
side, and that too was gone in three days. 

From the monotony of the passage two incidents 
stand out and wear a certain distinction. On 
Monday, October 23rd, we overtook an Aberdeen 
White Star vessel, the Nineveh^ south of the 
equator. The Dunottar Castle altered her course 
so that we passed the hired transport near enough 
to throw a biscuit on board. The New South 



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BOUND FOR THE SEAT OF WAR 33 

Wales Lancers, clay-coloured, thronged her decks 
and her rigging, and our own clay-coloured troops 
stood solid on the fo'c'sle head. While the 
Dunottar Castle straddled the seas the smaller 
ship dived and reared buoyantly with the slow 
rhythm of the ocean on the northern fringe of 
the " Trades " ; now her sharp fiddle-bows divided 
the water till that dusky white immutable figure- 
head with the folded arms stooped to the water ; 
now the water fell away from her green sides till 
the red bilges showed like the sides of a gold-fish. 

" Is Sir Redvers Buller on board ? " the Nineveh 
signalled. 

The rising yelp of her siren was answered by 
the steady, profound blast of our fog-horn. Major 
Rhodes — " one of the brothers," as one hears him 
called — the chief signaller of the staff, ran to the 
foVsle head and signalled somehow with a hand- 
kerchief. The mutograph was desperately trained 
on the Nineveh, but too late. "What won the 
Cesarewitch?" was the last question which reached 
us, and then the Nineveh, still fluttering with 
handkerchiefs and ringing with cheers, fell back 
into our wake and the distance. 

On Sunday, October 29th, the Australasian, 
D 



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34 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

also of the Aberdeen White Star Line, came 
in sight. It is strange how different associations 
breed different practices. Men and women who 
would not stop in Regent Street if a hansom fell in 
pieces before them, will spend hours watching a 
speck on the horizon when they are in mid-ocean ; 
will stream up from the saloons and the cabins to 
see a poor mean little brig shuffling and drifting 
through the doldrums. But the meeting with the 
Austrcdasian was more important than that; it 
was the most dramatic encounter at sea that any 
of us could call to mind, or was likely to experience 
again. When we sighted her she quickly came 
near to us. She was coming from the Cape, not 
going to it, and since she was coming from the 
Cape, why she must have news — ^news only three 
days old. 

Think of the days we had fed only on specula- 
tion ; think what it was to be without news of the 
war for two weeks; remember that we had the 
brains of the army on board, and then realise the 
curious mixture of voracity, hnpatience, excite- 
ment, and emotion with which we altered our 
course to come quite near the approaching vessel, 
burst out our signals from the mast, tumbled down 



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BOUND FOR THE SEAT OF WAR 35 

the companions to our cabins for glasses and 
cameras, returned, and — ^waited. 

I, for one, will always believe that the Austra- 
lasian slackened almost to dead slow as she 
approached us ; but there is the captain's evidence 
to the contrary, that she never altered her speed. 
At all events we came side to side with her at last, 
and then some one discovered that she had a long 
black board hung on her ratlines, and on the 
board there was — was it? — ^yes, not a doubt of 
it — writing. 

Would the letters never stop flickering in the 
end of one's glasses ? The ship would be by in 
a moment, and why on earth hadn't she come 
nearer? But at last the words drew out and 
separated themselves from the continuous line of 
chalk. We read — 

« Truce." Yes, " Truce." What, already ? 

No—" Three " ; that was it—" Three." 

"Three battles," so we read, catching the last 
words as Ma^ Australasian slipped past us — "Three 
battles ; the Boers defeated : Symons killed." 

In a few minutes the Australasian was hull 
down in the distance, but her quick transit had 
made an incredible difference to us; we looked 
on the sea with enlightened eyes. 



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CHAPTER II 
ON TO THE FRONT 

PiBTERMARlTZBURG, Tuesdav, November yth^ 1899. 

THE Dunottar Castle, with Sir Redvers Buller 
on board, had been expected in Table Bay 
all Monday, October 30th, and a military party of 
welcome stood on the quay to receive him. A 
f<^ lay on the sea and rain poured on the troops, 
but they stood and soaked, and changed from one 
leg to the other, patiently impatient At last 
news came from the signalling station outside the 
bay that two vessels were approaching ; the party 
of welcome brisked up and peered into the 
obscurity. Then came the first vessel, and when 
she thrust her shoulders through the fog and 
was seen to be the Zibenghla, with artillery on 
board — ^well, she deserved a welcome, but she 

scarcely was given one for very disappointment 

36 



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ON TO THE FRONT 37 

And when the second vessel turned out to be 
a tramp, and darkness fell on her arrival, the 
troops packed away home to angle for better luck 
the next day. All this I heard afterwards. 

The Dunottar Castle arrived about ten o'clock 
on the Monday night, too late to go alongside the 
quay. I doubt whether she was recognised at 
first, for we seemed to wait an unconscionable 
time before the tender came out to take off the 
mails. Impatience grew into indignation, but do 
not suppose that we were altruists who wished 
other people to get their letters quickly. What 
we wanted was news. 

At last a man came on board with a newspaper, 
and we hustled and menaced him as though he 
had been a dangerous criminal ; soon the paper 
was snatched from him, and the new owner was 
pursued and brought to bay half-way up a ladder. 
There he stood under an electric lamp and read 
us extracts. The audience swelled, and the reader 
was driven to a new point; he read us extracts 
in the smoking-room, more under a lamp by the 
wheel-house, more half-way down the saloon com- 
panion, and at last he gave a grand recital in the 
music saloon. In the audience there were men, 



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38 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

as I know, who heard the names of their brothers, 
uncles, and cousins in the list of casualties. " And 
so WooUs-Sampson was wounded ; " and for a 
time there must be a pause to that dramatic 
hostility of his carried on against the Boers in 
battle, politics, and prison. Other names in the 
list of casualties to the Imperial Light Horse I 
recc^ised, and began to see that this body con- 
tained many athletes — cricketers, football players, 
well-known sportsmen — and was, in fact, rather 
like the American Rough Riders. Farren, for 
example — I felt sure he was the Farren who used 
to row for the London Rowing Club. The corre- 
spondent told of nothing but gallantry and success 
at Ladysmith, but soldiers and those who had had 
any experience of soldiering read between the 
lines, and asked themselves why this daily fighting 
in that northern wedge of Natal and this daily 
return to camp in the same place. Why did not 
Sir George White sit still where he was rather 
than provoke fighting in those hills which gave all 
the advantage to the enemy — unless, indeed, it 
was that the enemy forced him to fight by 
threatening to come round his flank and cut him 
off? It seemed to us that that was the explana- 



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ON TO THE FROt^T 39 

tion, but then to think that the Boers should be 
so strong and so skilful ! We went to bed 
knowing already that the Boers had been under- 
valued, that the fighting was far more serious than 
any one had foreseen, and that we were face to 
to face with a bloody and perhaps a long war. 

The next morning the General landed, and I 
should pay the greatest compliment to the cha- 
racter of his reception by not describing it Why 
should it be a carnival? It was the necessary 
greeting, with little pomp, of a necessary person 
come on a stem mission, and so the bunting did 
not look like the bunting of a carnival, and the 
cheers were the cheers of hospitality rather than of 
merriment 

I followed the procession in a hansom, which 
was typical of Cape Town hansoms, and which 
made an indelible mark on my memory. Every 
Cape Town hansom has a name ; mine was 
called the Diggers' Camp. It looked like a 
London hansom which had received a violent 
blow on the top, so that in the process of being 
flattened out it had become squatter and longer. 
The Diggers' Camp seemed to be specially adapted 
to collect the rain by pouring it off the window 



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40 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

into the inside of the cab ; and the general condi- 
tion of Cape Town hansoms is such that Mr. E. T. 
Reed should not miss them in prosecuting his 
studies in the prehistoric. From the small to the 
great one might go at a leap, and say how dis- 
appointing the whole of Cape Town is compared 
with Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and other 
colonial capitals. The Mount Nelson Hotel, how- 
ever, is a particular star. I have seen hotels on 
which far more money has been spent; I have 
never seen one on which money had been spent to 
such good purpose. The collection of old prints, 
the Chippendale chairs, the Persian rugs, were all 
surprising and admirable. The General and his 
staff stayed there ; and then one was glad to see 
so many prominent Outlanders comfortable there 
too. Some one, remembering Sir Alfred Milner's 
famous despatch, has called the place " The Helots' 
Rest" Cape Town has accepted the name. 

At the offices of the Castle Line some of us 
found that it was possible to reach Natal sooner 
— ^and Natal meant the fighting — by leaving the 
Dunottar Castle^ travelling by train to E^st 
London, and thence by a small mail packet to 
Durban. Plans are liable to frustration of every 



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ON TO THE FRONT 41 

sort in these disjointed times, but if the plan 
succeeded we should reach Durban at least four 
days ahead of the DunoUar Castle, It was 
worth trying, and three of us decided to make 
the attempt 

How much there was to be done before nine 
o'clock that night! For one thing, my luggage 
was nearly all stored in the hold of the ship, 
labelled for Natal. The manner in which I 
cajoled the bag^;age officer into turning over some 
hundreds of tons of luggage and extracting mine 
from the bottom, and all this when he had been 
turning this same luggage over and over all day 
long and had only just packed it away, as he 
thought for the last time, would appear less per- 
suasive in the description than it was in fact I 
hope I thanked that baggage officer of the 
Dunottar Castle duly at the time, but I make 
him my compliments again. 

The passengers got wind of our plan when it 
was too late for any one else to join in it. The 
first tendency of the adventurers and the corre- 
spondents, who were all counting the minutes till 
they would be in Natal, was towards destructive 
criticism ; but when an old colonist, after much 



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42 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

sorrowful meditation, admitted the soundness of 
the plan, their faces grew longer, and I thought 
one of them looked suddenly ten years older. 

We started at nine that night, and our train 
turned out to be the last to get through from 
Cape Town to Blast London. The great thing in 
our favour was that the train carried the mails, 
and when British people wait for their news from 
home nothing is more certain than that every 
effort will be made to see that they get it The 
first law of the correspondent's life is to get there, 
and the second is to get there, and the third is also 
to get there ; and in fulfilling the law the best rule 
of all is to stick to the mails. Usually the mails 
from Great Britain to Durban, after being landed 
at Cape Town, are taken all the rest of the way by 
train vid Johannesburg. That was now impossible, 
but we had had the good fortune to stumble on 
the new and unadvertised plan for taking them on 
by sea from East London to Durban. 

My companions were Mr. Winston Spencer 
Churchill, the correspondent of the Morning Posty 
who lately stood as Parliamentary candidate 
for Oldham, and Captain the Hon. A. Campbell, 
the correspondent of Laffan's Agency. On the 



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ON TO THE FRONT 43 

train we found a young engineer who was on his 
way to become overseer of a certain section of 
the Cape railways. He was one of the staflf of 
the desert railway in Lord Kitchener's campaign ; 
and now he had come, like all the rest of the 
staff, to develop the New Idea of warfare by 
railway. From Girouard downwards — Girouard 
who has left his prosperous life in Cairo — they 
have all come, and when Girouard moves he is 
followed by many intelligent disciples. 

Even in the southerly districts of Cape Colony 
we were reminded of the war ; at every bridge, at 
every little culvert, all the way from Cape Town to 
East London, a man stood with two flags, a white 
and a red, in his hands, and if the piece of railway 
which he guarded had not been tampered with he 
waved us on with the white flag. 

It is a striking journey through the great table- 
lands of Cape Colony ; the aspect of the country is 
a singular mixture of gloom and beauty. You can 
lift up your eyes to the dim hills, and they are 
massive and grand even when they are not purple 
in the sun ; but near at hand the kopjes and the 
great flat sandy karroo have a strain of deformity in 
their nature. The dreary faded green of wattle and 



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44 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

gum-tree on Australian downs has a mournful 
beauty that grows on you and masters the sense 
of monotony ; the unbroken flatness of the English 
fens with the oppressive sky thrust close down on 
the horizon like a vaulted roof all round you also 
becomes beautiful to you ; but these things require 
time to take possession of your mind. The karroo 
and the kopjes seize your imagination by the throat 
at once and compel your mind, but compel it with 
the power of something mysterious, gargoylish. 

The karroo of these great lands lies half-way 
between a knotted and frozen lunar landscape and 
healthy English country ; it is something that has 
been formed in the twilight of creation. The 
kopjes are nearly all flat-topped, as though each 
hill, half or three-quarters of the way up, had been 
slashed through with a scimitar. Cape Town does 
not boast its Table Mountain merely because it is 
flat-topped, but rather because it is an imposing 
specimen of a common type. Scarcely anywhere 
in Cape Colony can you throw your eyes round 
without seeing a massive table, as flat and r^[ular 
as though it had been ruled with a spirit-level, 
standing buttressed up under heaven. Thousands 
of these have a natural claim to be thought an 



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ON TO THE FRONT 45 

Olympus ; and perhaps — who knows ? — in the 
mythology of the primitive natives a party of 
deities threw their dice on every mountain table 
in Epicurean callousness. Meanwhile the neg- 
lected land below produced its flowers without 
scent and its birds without song. And yet these 
lands are near the skies and are full of keen and 
blowing airs that string up your nerves. A sheep 
here requires six hundred acres ot country all to 
itself; but that modest estate granted it thrives, 
whether it be lean or fat tailed. 

Our most faithful companions across the karroo 
were the "devils" of dust. A handful of sand 
suddenly leaps up in the air on the back of a 
breeze and, b^inning to whirl round, seems to 
call on the sands to join it And so they do 
catching at its trailing skirts and making the 
revolving funnel (already a pillar in height) rise 
further and further into the air. So the little 
sandy hurricane, both revolving and marching, 
goes swaying forward across the karroo ; in the 
distance, before or behind, one could generally 
see a "devil" competing rather hopelessly with 
the train. 

The second night in the train we arrived at 



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46 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

De Aar, at midnight Mr. E. F. Knight came on 
board to see us, and told us that an attack on 
De Aar might be made at any moment Then 
we began to doubt whether our train would not 
be cut off by the Boers a little further along the 
line. For many miles the line runs parallel with 
the southern frontier of the Orange Free State, 
and not only was this part of the country un- 
protected, but the Cape Dutch who live along 
the line were thought likely to help the Boers 
at once. Stories of brewing disaffection assailed 
us eversnvhere; it needed only a little more 
encouragement — a few more misfortunes to the 
British troops — ^to precipitate it But the night 
passed, and so did the train. The worst that 
happened, as we heard later, was that a north- 
ward branch of the line was cut some miles 
away from us. 

At noon the next day we reached Stormberg 
Junction, and the little station was full of business. 
A train stood in a siding laden with men from the 
Powerful Our train was now delayed, and we 
spent two hours at the station. Meanwhile the 
Naval Brigade went off like men sitting in boats, 
with trucks for the boats, nursing their guns and 



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ON TO THE FRONT 47 

smiling. They did not know where they were 
going — not they ! They were simply told to get 
into the train, and they got in, and smiled, glad to 
be off after a month spent in one place ; and then 
they lit their pipes and dropped their arms over 
the guns which were sitting down amongst them 
in the middle of the trucks, and smiled again under 
the hats which were tied like bonnets under their 
chins. Such is the temper of the fighting 
machine. 

Even we travellers soon knew that the garrison 
was to fall back on Queenstown — a long retreat, 
and retreat was not a thing to make one smile. 
Some artillery and mounted infantry marched off 
by route, and then only the 2nd Berkshires were 
left to go later. A young officer with a ragged 
beard and a glowing furnace of a face (here, indeed, 
in this exposed forward post, one saw the guise 
of war) showed us the cottage which he had 
fortified. It was loopholed and barricaded with 
sandbags, and was christened "Fort Chabrol." 
The only thing not provided against was shell 
fire, and the young officer had not time to dig 
beneath the foundations, "or we could have put 
up with that too," as he said. But now Fort 



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48 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Chabrol had to be abandoned, and the designer 
and his labourers lingered about the place. 
Perhaps soon the Boers will be defending them- 
selves in it, for it was left as it stood. 

"If only I could bum it ! " meditated the young 
officer; "but there's nothing to bum." 

"Slowed if we couldn't blow it up," said one 
of the men. 

But it was left, and a new engine which had been 
fixed to a well outside into the bargain. 

Just one thing softened the shock of separation 
from the fort I photographed it The sentry 
outside presented arms, beaming ; after all, its 
lineaments would be perpetuated ; they would 
remain in some one's possession ; some one would 
remember and understand ; it was well. 

Shortly afterwards we were in the train again 
and striking back into the heart of Cape Colony. 
At every cottage along the line for many miles 
we stopped to take away women and children. 
Once we stopped to put down a company of 
Durban volunteers who were to form an outpost 
to the new base — ^hearty, merry, strongly knitted, 
flexibly built men, clay-coloured in their khaki, 
with just one dash of colour where their hats were 



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ON TO THE FRONT 49 

slashed round with the red of the Leander Club, 
which every one knows at Henley Regatta. They 
disappeared to pitch their camp in a fold of the 
hills, and a cheer went after them. Thus we 
arrived in undue time, for we had been much 
delayed, at East London the next day. 

To stick to the mails, let me say again, is a 
prescription that cures all the ills of travel. Once 
get yourself recognised as part of the mail, and 
officials will pack you and unpack you as readily 
as though you were labelled " News, Delagoa Bay," 
or "Letters, Durban." When we reached East 
London we were quite part of the mail ; there 
we shook off all our fellow passengers, and the 
mail was taken down to the jetty in official-looking 
vans. Nothing but the mail — and you are to 
remember that we were part of it — travelled on 
the little packet to Durban, and now that I look 
back on the voyage I can understand why no one 
else grudged us the distinction. The packet was 
called the Umzimvubuy which is the original name 
of the St. John's river, and she was ninety tons 
register. 

When it blows from the south or east on this 
part of the coast, there is a sea that seems to 
£ 



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so THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

well right up, unimpeded, from the south pole 
in the one case, or to gather its strength across 
the whole wide waste from Australia in the other. 
It was blowing a gale from the east on this 
day. Looking out through the narrow jaws of 
the river we could see large vessels pitching 
steadily at their anchorage in the bay, and a low- 
lying barque only occasionally showing us her 
bulwarks above the rollers. We started on a little 
strip of deliciously smooth water, and one dwelt 
appreciatively on every turn of the screw in this 
brief calm, for already at the mouth of the river 
we could see the rollers piled up in confusion. 
Four waves seemed to mark the transition from 
stillness to the tumult At the first wave the 
little Utmimvubu tilted up her nose, and skipped 
across it with scarcely a quaver, but the next 
she took with a gasp and a heave, burying her 
nose in the third, which in its turn picked her high 
up and threw her forward on to the fourth ; and 
the fourth accepted her with a shout, and cast her 
out into the bay on her side. After that, for a 
whole day and night, all the waves were like the 
fourth. You were not concerned in the simple 
calculation, whether or not you were a good 



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ON TO THE FRONT 51 

sailor ; it was rather a question whether you 
had a good enough head to sit on the shoulder 
of a spinning peg-top without reeling from 
giddiness. 

To pitch is to pitch and to roll is to roll, but the 
Umzimvubu achieved the most curious mixture of 
sea-motions — some, I have no doubt, of her own 
inventing — that I could have imagined. She would 
climb slowly up one wave on her side, flop somehow 
over the top, and slide down the decline on her 
other side ; that was the simplest motion, and it 
was recurrent She would also shoot down hill 
with a circular stabbing motion of her bows as 
though not quite certain where to strike in the 
trough of the seas, and her masts would pencil the 
most fantastic figures on the sky. When she did 
dive her nose into the sea, the water burst over the 
bows, and her bows, coming up with a jerk, seemed 
to throw it back on to the bridge as an elephant 
spirts water behind it ; and then the water sluiced 
along her deck, past the crew who stood knee-deep 
holding on to the rails, and burst in a fountain 
against the break of the poop, unless, indeed, before 
this motion was half over, the Umzimvubu received 
a slap under the counter, which drove her nose 



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52 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

further into the sea, and set her screw racing long 
and diabolically before she could recoil. 

For twenty hours the deck was awash from end 
to end, and all the scuppers round the ship squirted 
like hose. The brieve stood up, an abrupt little 
island, but dripping like a half-tide rock. We 
passed the night — it would be untruthful to say 
slept — in a cabin common to the passengers and 
the crew almost directly over the screw, and in the 
morning I felt that I could travel by railway packed 
into a portmanteau without actually dying from 
being flung about I have some impatience of the 
restraint with which sailors describe the weather ; 
a might of anguish to the passenger means to them 
" a strong breeze,'' and what the passenger imagines 
to be a West Indian hurricane they describe as 
*' half a gale." But the captain of the Umzimvubu 
— ^a charming Norwegian — was quite satisfying, 
and I can accept his evidence, as he did not leave 
the bridge for more than three minutes that whole 
night. He said it was the roughest night he had 
had for two years, " and," he added, " if it hadn't 
been for the mails I never should have come." The 
mails I What will not people endure for that solemn 
trust, the British mails ? 



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ON TO THE FRONT 53 

About the middle of the next day the captain 
said that the wind would change, and blow a gale 
from the west, and in two hours surely enough it 
did. Then we spread a square sale with stays 
running right aft to brace it in the simple manner 
with which the Viking and the Crusader must have 
been familiar, and, raising our speed of five knots 
to ten, thus sped before the pleasant gale. We 
arrived at Durban nearly four days before the 
Dunottar Castle^ and one day before officers of the 
Natal Field Force who had been ordered off the 
Dunottar Castle at Cape Town and sent forward on 
the Jelunga. So our plan succeeded, and yet it 
failed — we were too late to get into Ladysmith. 
Again with the mails, but now somewhat chastened, 
we hurried to Maritzburg on the rarlway, which 
serpentines in astonishing curves over the rich 
hills, hills abounding with sleek cattle and noble 
views. 

Here is an appropriate place, perhaps, to review 
the situation and confess the worst, for Maritzburg, 
lying in a cup made by the hills, is indeed open to 
the enemy. One writes with an oppressive sense 
of the disproofs that may be lying in wait for the 
prophet, but under a system of vigorous but neces- 



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54 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

sary censorship on telegrams a summary of what 
we feel here to-day may have its value when it 
comes to be read weeks hence, or at least it may be 
allowed then a sort of historical value. So far we 
have had to abandon every place which was 
menaced or attacked except one — Ladysmith — 
and in that place we are invested. At Pretoria, 
so far as I can understand, there are some i,6oo 
British prisoners, including about forty-five officers ; 
we on our side have about 200 Boer prisoners. 
That briefly is the situation. At this moment there 
is nothing to prevent the Boers from coming 
straight through Natal. The best men from Maritz- 
burg are already at the front ; a scheme of town 
defence is being eked out with the mere remnants. 
Desperate letters appear in the papers urging, for 
example, that every man who can pull a trigger 
and crawl into a trench should be forced to defend 
the town. Now, what prevents the Boers from 
coming further south before our reinforcements 
arrive ? Apparently they do not wish to leave so 
lai^e a force as there is in Ladysmith in their rear. 
They wish to dispose of that force before they come 
on — confident that they can come on whenever 
they wish. This confidence in the ultimate issue 



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ON TO THE FRONT 55 

is no doubt misplaced, but in reviewing the situa- 
tion one has to remember that it exists throughout 
the Boer army. The Boers appear, in short, to be 
trying to accomplish too much. What fact have 
they to face in the next week? The arrival, of 
course, of British reinforcements. Their true and 
immediate plan would, therefore, seem to be to 
impose as much difficulty as possible upon the 
advance of these reinforcements. This they could 
do by sending small parties to tear up the railway 
at different points. Estcourt and its patrols, even 
Maritzburg itself, could be avoided safely enough 
by slight detours. No one in these places can 
help knowing this quite well. That the Boers are 
hanging back is fortunate for Natal ; let us under- 
stand clearly that the temporary loss of the whole 
colony of Natal is not a ridiculous supposition. In 
the circumstances, however, it seems more likely 
that our reinforcements will meet the Boers at or 
north of Estcourt, and then very hard fighting will 
follow. 

The fighting is always bound to be hard, because 
we stand at a certain natural disadvantage. One 
has only to look round at the frequent kopjes 
covered with boulders and crevices which afford 



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56 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

shelter to the trained or the cunning to say, 
" This is Boers' fighting country, not ours." This 
natural disadvantage, since we were not bom or 
trained to the country, we cannot hope to over- 
come. The British officer, with the manuals of 
tactics at his finger ends, is constantly finding 
himself in predicaments of which the manuals 
offer no solution ; and however clever he be, 
his men are hard to extricate from their position, 
for their sturdy discipline is matched with an 
equally sturdy want of natural resource, intelli- 
gence, or eye for the country. The Boer knows 
the common features of the country like the palm 
of his hand ; while British troops are mobilising 
he is, as it were, deer-stalking ; the British officer 
leads a difficult movement prescribed for rare 
occasions, the Boer meets it by saying, " Come 
on, Piet," or " Come on, Oom." It is astonishing 
to us that the irregular should be in any respect 
superior to the regular, but is not this a new thing 
which the armies of Europe must allow in their 
calculations ? This natural advantage of the Boers 
belongs to him only in the country of the kopjes 
or in very broken gfround. In fair open country 
where British cavalry could perform their proper 



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ON TO THE FRONT 57 

functions the results would certainly be dif- 
ferent 

The second great disadvantage from which we 
suffer we could overcome in time — it is the want 
of mounted infantry. Every Boer is mounted on 
his nimble-footed pony, which moves from one 
position to another with extraordinary quickness. 
What we want is not so much horses to charge 
on as horses on which to move about quickly. 
When we fully recognise these two great facts we 
shall be safe from the vulgar mistake of despising 
our enemy. It is a mistake which no officer here 
makes. 

The campaign, young as it is, has readjusted 
our opinions in many ways. After Lady- 
smith and the battles round it, no man, unless 
he refused to rectify his sense of proportion, 
could speak with quite the old severity of CoUey's 
unhappy failures in this same country. Colley 
had a few handfuls of men, and never once 
(whether at Laing's Nek, the Ingogo, or at Majuba) 
did he fight with even a composite force. It is 
a small, and perhaps a disproportionate reflection 
in the present serious circumstances, that this 
campaign should have helped to vindicate Colley 



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58 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

a very little ; but the reflection is something con- 
crete, precipitated out of a general feeling. Again 
one might say that already this campaign has 
reduced to its true military dimensions the Jameson 
Raid — on military grounds an insolent and pre- 
sumptuous freak of which no officer can speak 
now without annoyance. 



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CHAPTER III 
EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 

ESTCOURT, Wednesday, November 22nd, 1899. 

ESTCOURT is a village sunk in a cup of the 
pleasant and grassy uplands of Natal. It 
is a half-way house at which overheated people 
may pause in the summer flight from Durban to 
the mountains. And here, too, pause we who are 
concerned in the relieving movement towards 
Ladysmith. Yet we pause alone, for these are not 
times for a summer dalliance ; what visitors there 
are are not at the sanatorium, but they are persons 
whose necessary business is prosecuted under the 
eye of military authority ; the residents are gone, 
except a few storekeepers who linger to squeeze 
that profitable orange an army, and, fearfully 
tempting fortune, still keep about them the goods 
of which they may be deprived upon a single 

59 



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6o THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

mischance to the British army. The enemy 
crouches at our door, and with our present 
resources this place is scarcely defensible ; the 
property of to-day is the easy loot of to-morrow. 

While we have waited here we have fought with 
time, not with the enemy. Here is the situation. 
We cannot advance to the relief of Ladysmith 
till we have a sufficient force ; meanwhile we have 
not only not a sufficient force to do that, but not 
a sufficient force to hold the place, to guard the 
capital, Maritzburg, indeed not to save any part 
of the colony. Will the Boers advance? Why 
do they not advance? 

In my last letter I said something of the limi- 
tations of the Boer military mind — the inability 
to think of two things at once. Intent on the 
investment of Ladysmith, and confident of his 
power to advance when he pleases, the Boer wishes 
to be off with one job before he is on with the 
next But a geographical fact takes its place with 
purely mental causes. The Tugela river lays 
between us and Ladysmith, and although there 
is a bridge across it the Boer is disinclined to 
make his retreat dependent on a bridge. Hence 
he has sent south of Colenso so far only lai^e 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 6i 

foraging parties, and every day of quiet at Est- 
court has lessened the anxiety, for if we have not 
received reinforcements every day, every day has 
brought their arrival nearer. 

But I will not pretend that Estcourt camp has 
fought time with great expectation of success ; 
there has been rather a certain sense of inevitable- 
ness and a stoical resignation. " We have not got 
enough men to patrol these hills ; we have almost 
no guns to defend them. But we may as well 
send out what patrols we can, and keep our few 
men fit, and eat our dinner as usual and see what 
happens." That has been the tone of the camp 
We have heard the guns at Ladysmith on many 
days, and from the hills we have seen their flashes 
and every day and every night we have expected 
to hear them and see them come nearer. 

The locking up in Ladysmith of so large a part 
of the Natal Field Force has had an odd effect on 
the organisation of our minute army here ; work 
has been devolved on unforeseen shoulders, and 
redevolved and dovetailed and made to overlap 
until one scarcely knows whether a transport 
officer is not also provost-marshal and press- 
censor. Nor is there this satisfactory condition, 



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6j the relief of ladysmith 

that every one feels that he is getting some of his 
work done by some one else; rather every one 
seems to think that some one else is invading his 
province. How can it be helped when the plans 
of the War Office have been inconsiderately upset 
by the Boers? But the people of Natal think 
everything can be helped, and it were useless to 
pretend that they are expending anything but 
hearty abuse on the army in Natal and, through 
it, on the Imperial Grovemment. The Natal 
newspapers think that they are being kept in the 
dark like children, and they say so every day with 
growing vigour. "Why should we be treated 
contemptuously in our own country?" they ask. 
And one may go further and ask, ** Is not Natal 
the most loyal colony, and are not the newspapers 
the instruments of loyalty?" This, then, is a 
change of front which is worth recording. For 
myself, I think, however, that this unsatisfactory 
stage will pass with the defensive stage of the 
war. 

One other point may be added. The colonist 
has some contempt for every British-bred soldier, 
at least when the British-bred one is opposed to 
the Boers ; but he also has, it would be unfair not 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 63 

to add, a quite undue contempt for the Boer. Now 
the colonist is disposed already to speak of Sir 
George White as though he were a Colley, and to 
the South African that name signifies an unsullied 
ignorance of the conditions of warfare in South 
Africa. 

After a few days of assiduous expulsion, all 
undesirables and suspected spies have been shot 
out from this almost wholly military camp. 
Perhaps those undesirables who give the least 
cause for suspicion give the most difficulty to the 
expeller. The following authentic scene is offered 
as proof: — 

Enter the hearty but unaccredited representative 
of a San Francisco paper. He approaches the 
dignified and polite but highly rigorous Press 
Censor. 

Censor. Let's see, is it you that wanted to speak 
to me about ? 

American, Yes ; Fm very glad to meet you, 
Major. I hear there's a sort of a difficulty. But I 
can explain it to you right here in two minutes 

Censor. But I understand you have not got a 
War Office licence? 

American. No. That's right But you see I 



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64 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

couldn't very well as I haven't been near London, 
and I thought as I was the representative of the 
San Francisco 

Censor {hoping to end the interview). Tm 
really awfully sorry, but you see I don't act on my 
own authority — ^you quite understand that — ^and 
as you have no licence it would be quite im- 
possible 

American. Oh, I quite understand your posi- 
tion, old man, and of course you're quite right, and 
I don't bear you any grudge. But I suppose 
you've heard of the San Francisco 

Censor. No, really ; I'm afraid it's quite im- 
possible. 

American, You wouldn't know old Benjamin 
So-and-so then, my chief — a lovely man. You 
ought to know him ; you'd like him. It was for 
him I was imprisoned three weeks in Cuba. 

Censor, I'm afraid really 

American {patting Censor on shoulder). Oh, 
I quite understand your difficulty — {Censor makes 
deprecating «w/kw»)— Well, have a drink. 

Censor. No ; thanks very much. 

American, Well ! This is the most tee-tee- 
total place 1 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 65 

Censor. Fm afraid I can't allow you to stay in 
camp. . . . Orderly 1 Show this gentleman to the 
railway station. 

American. You needn't think now I don't see 
the difficulty, but I thought all the same — {same 
civilians pass with cameras). Well, say, I should 
like to have a photograph of you, old man. Say I 
{Civilians pass on. Censor turns away.) Well, 
goodbye, old man. Goodbye! {Censor turns 
round. American holds out his hand. They 
shake hands. Censor is instantly occupied with 
new business. American goes off towards railway 
station guided by orderly^ 

The chief diversion of our life at Estcourt used 
to be (the past tense signifies a great tragedy) the 
daily start and return of the armoured train. We 
used to throng down to the station to see it off, 
and to hear its news on its return, much as people 
go down to see the boats at Dover pier. It was 
not really an armoured train at all ; it was not 
an armoured train, that is to say, with trap doors 
and proper outlets for the muzzles of Maxim guns. 
It was made up of an ordinary engine and 
ordinary iron trucks belonging to the Natal 
Government Railway protected by boiler plates ; 
F 



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66 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

and through the boiler plates were cut loopholes 
for the rifles. The trucks had no roofs. To get 
in or out of the trucks one had to climb over the 
walls. It was fun to see a small and clumsy 
climber pushed up from the inside by his com- 
rades, then squirm preposterously on his stomach 
over the wall and drop or scramble down the 
seven feet on the outside. I used to imagine the 
men under a heavy fire performing their slow and 
painful acrobatic feat to get out of their cage. 

The train, in short, was a death-trap. Nearly 
every day it used to reconnoitre the country as 
far north as Colenso, which was many miles within 
what might be called the enemy's country. There 
were not enough troops to send a cavalry escort 
with the train for scouting the country near the 
line, and we used to say — we take no credit for 
wisdom after the event, for we all said it — ^that one 
day the Boers would wait quietly hidden till the 
train had passed and then pull up the line behind 
it Its retreat would be cut off, and if the Boers 
had a gun they could do what they liked with the 
train. I think every one admitted this, and every 
one would also have admitted that we had not one 
man to spare, yet nearly every day that train went 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 67 

out to Colenso. Immunity from mishap en- 
couraged temerity, and still day after day the 
death-trap returned with the same story; the. 
wires had been tested at the intermediate stations 
and found intact ; the Boers had been sighted and 
perhaps even a volley had been exchanged; 
Colenso had been found empty or in the hands 
of looters ; a native runner had been picked up 
and had produced messages from his shoes and 
the inside of his clothing, and this although he 
had been stopped and searched by the Boers ; and 
occasionally a farmer was brought in to camp 
thinking the time had come to retreat before the 
Boers. "Well," we used to say, "the armoured 
train has come back to-day, but to-morrow some- 
thing will happen." 

On Wednesday, November 15th, something 
happened ; we had surely enough been wise 
before the event, and I can heartily wish that we 
had not But the disaster was the culmination of 
a small series of events which must be related in 
their proper order. 

On Tuesday, November 14th, about eleven a.m,, 
the alarm gun was fired on a small hill just 
outside Estcourt Instantly the camp sprang to 



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68 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

life. In a moment belts were being buckled, 
straps thrown across shoulders, helmets jammed 
on heads, putties wrapped feverishly round legs, 
and the tents — for the orders were to strike camp 
— the tents, with loosened guy ropes, were sinking 
to the ground like deflated balloons. The tents 
were packed and left ready to be moved ; evidently 
it was not expected that we should be able to hold 
Estcourt 

The General and his stafl* took their position in 
the middle of the main street of the village and 
watched the rim of the hills round Estcourt. The 
Boers were said to be advancing on us along the 
Colenso and Weenen roads. The news had been 
brought in by cyclist scouts and by the magistrate 
and the Dutch minister of Weenen — the Dutch 
minister who, everybody says, came in a scout 
and went back a spy, for he and the magistrate 
returned to Weenen that night 

Our small garrison dotted itself along the rim of 
hills on the north and east of Estcourt ; there were 
the Dublin Fusiliers, the Border Regiment, and the 
West Yorkshires ; and the mounted troops — ^some 
of the Imperial Light Horse, the Natal Carbineers, 
and the mounted infantry of the 6oth Rifles — 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 69 

scouted forward. I was not allowed to go further 
than a spot about one and a half miles from 
Estcourt where our pickets were lying down in a 
firing line. Here I waited for hours and could see 
the Boers, not in great numbers, coming and 
going on the top of a table hill about three miles 
away and moving about a farmhouse at the foot 
of the hill. 

They did not advance, and the expectation of an 
attack waned with the waning day. The Mounted 
Infantry came into contact with no more than 200 
Boers and exchanged perhaps thirty harmless 
shots with them. But there was this unhappy 
uncertainty about the whole matter, that we had 
been unable to scout the country properly, and we 
knew not what forte was at the back of the Boers 
we had seen. 

When I returned to Estcourt, and the greater 
part of the troops had been drawn in, I found that 
the camp was what the soldiers call "jumpy." 
Were we going to stay or abandon Estcourt that 
night ? The camp wore an air of vacillation, and 
vacillation is the blood-brother to demoralisation. 
The ground of the Dublins had sprung once more 
into a little white village, and no sooner had this 



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70 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

happened than, by orders, the white walls fluttered 
to the ground again and were packed ready to be 
moved. The troops were told to bivouac, that is, 
sleep in their blankets in the open, and the night 
— the nights here are chilling — fell with teeming 
rain. Already the heavy stores were being heaped 
on the trucks standing in the station. 

There is an atmosphere of retreat which is 
unmistakable even before the final order has been 
given, and Estcourt now was wrapped in this 
atmosphere. Officers went about blue, and some 
'* jumpy," but all I met said it was monstrous that 
we should abandon Estcourt before we had been 
attacked or even seen many Boers ; and yet here 
was the curious thing, that there was a moment 
when every one firmly believed that we were going 
to abandon it Perhaps none realised even then 
the seriousness of that moment If Estcourt were 
abandoned there would be a rapid fall back 
towards Maritzburg, and imagine the effect on the 
troops, on the colony, on every one and everything, 
of this declension upon the almost unprotected 
capital 1 I do not know, and it would be con- 
sidered scarcely my business to inquire, who was 
responsible for this grave moment I know only 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 71 

that within an hour the whole situation changed. 
It was a moral, not a physical, change ; no more 
troops had arrived, and we had no reason to 
believe that the Boers were less than vivid 
imaginations had made them, and yet within an 
hour the spirit of Estcourt was changed. At ten 
o'clock that night I knew that there was to be no 
retreat, no miserable night march, no military 
disgrace. 

Colonel Long — he had succeeded in the com- 
mand recently to General Wolfe-Murray — had 
heard all opinions, and now he had spoken. He 
had " stated in emphatic language what he'd be " 
before he would leave Estcourt On the morrow 
we were to fight if the Boers would have it so ; the 
two naval twelve-pounders which had been brought 
down from the hill and put in the train were 
detrained ; Captain Haldane, of the Gordons 
(already shot in the foot in this campaign), was to 
take out the armoured train with a naval seven- 
pounder mounted on a truck and do just what he 
could and just what he liked ; operations were to 
begin with daylight, and, in short. Colonel Long, 
who commanded the artillery at Omdurman, and 
has commanded more artillery in action than any 



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72 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

British officer, was resolute to see now what he 
could do with almost no artillery at all. 

A camp waiting every moment for an attack is 
an odd resting-place. The thud and hollow bang 
of goods being unladen in a tin shed at the railway 
station become the voice of artillery on the hills, 
and the bumping of a truck along the uneven 
sleepers is the best imitation I know of indepen- 
dent musketry fire. Twice that night I went out- 
side my tent to listen. 

At about 4.30 a.m. Mr. Winston Churchill, who 
was sleeping in my tent, woke me up to say that 
he was going in that death-trap, the armoured 
train, with Haldane. I said that he would either 
see too little or too much. We all know now 
that it was " too much," though even so — and 
as I write I do not know whether Churchill 
is alive or dead — I doubt whether the experience 
was too much for his astonishing fearlessness. 

It must have been two hours later when we 
heard quick artillery fire in the direction of 
Colenso — the direction in which the armoured 
train had gone. Mr. Amery, of the Times, and 
I started off towards the firing, but on foot as 
our ponies were sick. About two miles from 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 73 

Estcourt we heard the shrill whistle of the 
armoured train among the hills, and not long 
afterwards it appeared out of a gully close to 
us — but, behold, an armoured train no longer; 
only the armoured engine and a tender, and 
these crowded with clinging men I Men stood 
on the foot-plates of the engine, sat on the cow- 
catcher in front, and hung on to the sides of 
the tender; and when we ran to the track they 
waved their arms and pointed backwards and 
threw up their hands again, like men who would 
signalise something horrible. They were nearly 
all platelayers. 

The train passed. We hurried on, struggling 
— for a soaking rain was falling now — over the 
khaki-coloured baked mud now become a slippery 
paste. About six miles up the line we met 
another platelayer from the train returning on 
foot — a yellow-haired, blue-eyed Scandinavian, 
but the blue eyes were now bloodshot, and the 
words came shortly and stumblingly from his 
mouth. He seemed anxious to talk too ; and, 
indeed, his was an experience which a platelayer 
might count out of the common and worth com- 
munication. 



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74 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

He told us how the train had travelled to 
Chieveley station ; how the Boers had let it pass 
by, and then taken up a position behind it just 
as we had all prophesied ; how Captain Haldane 
had tried to run the train through between the 
two kopjes where the Boers were posted ; how 
when the train was bounding round the curves 
of this little railway two trucks had toppled over, 
perhaps of their own accord, perhaps because a 
shell had struck them, perhaps because there was 
an explosive on the line. And then into the 
midst of this railway accident, bad enough already, 
into the men crawling from under the trucks and 
among the wreckage, the Boers had poured rifle 
fire and the fire from a Maxim and three field 
guns. " Man ! " said the Scandinavian platelayer, 
•I never saw nor heard anything like it" 

Further up the line, at Ennersdale, we found 
twelve men from the Dublin Fusiliers and the 
Durban Light Infantry who had escaped from the 
disaster, and gradually we pieced the story together. 
We heard how Churchill had walked round and 
round the wreckage while the bullets were spitting 
against the iron walls, and had called for volun- 
teers to free the engine ; how he had said, " Keep 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 75 

cool, men " ; and again, " This will be interesting 
for my paper" (the Morning Posi)\ and again 
how, when the engine-driver was grazed on the 
head and was about to escape, he had jumped in 
to help him, and had said, '' No man is hit twice 
in the same day." The naval seven-pounder had 
been put out of action after firing three shots, and 
four out of the five sailors serving it had been 
bowled over. 

At last the engine had been freed and had 
started homewards with some thirty men, fifteen 
of whom were wounded, and then Churchill and 
Haldane had turned back to help the Dublin 
Fusiliers and Durban Light Infantry who were 
still engaging the enemy, and were almost sur- 
rounded. There the story ends, at the moment 
in which Churchill and Haldane disappeared into 
the fight again. 

Well, I devoutly hope Churchill is safe; but I half 
fear the gods love too much a man, only twenty- 
four years old, who has notable services performed 
in three campaigns already at his back, a man 
who can translate his thoughts instantly into apt 
and flowing language, a man with a taste in 
literature, the author of "With the Malakand 



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76 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Field Force," and "The River War." He is 
that rare combination, the soldier, the reckless 
soldier even, and the bookman ; and it is strange 
to hear the young soldier speaking in the words of 
the bookman to his taciturn fellow-soldiers without 
a trace of embarrassment or self-consciousness. 
He has the ability — invaluable to an orator — ^to 
finish a spoken sentence in grammatical form, 
and so it happens that since he has the faculty 
of quick literary imitation he is continually 
practising it in conversation. Sometimes it will 
be the sonorous Gibbonian sentence, sometimes 
the balance and antithesis of Addison, sometimes 
the strong confusion of Carlyle. This is the way 
to Parliament, whither he will carry, if he survive 
these perilous days, qualities that even his father 
had not " On to success through notable per- 
formances ; and if not through notability, then 
through notoriety; but anyhow, on to success!" 
That is the motto and the motive, and the 
humorous candour of their adoption is the 
singular attractiveness of a strong character. 

Twice the hospital train has visited the Boer 
lines to ask for the wounded, and the Boers have 
replied, "There are three dead with us and nine 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 77 

wounded, and the rest are prisoners. We can 
give you no names ; you will see those in the 
Pretoria papers." Altogether seventy-five men 
of those who went out in the armoured train are 
missing. 

This was the one incident of the day. This 
desperate plan of what was to have been a 
desperate day lost nothing of its desperation ; 
but the other plans remained merely plans ; there 
was practically no other fighting at all. 

There is this to be said in extenuation of the 
armoured train tragedy, that it was not a foolish 
reconnaissance but a wild fighting act of which, 
once accepted, the risk was necessary. For this 
armoured train, as an instrument of reconnaissance, 
there is hardly anything to be said in extenuation. 
I speak on all military things with diffidence ; but 
here I can speak with confidence, as I repeat the 
expressions of almost every officer in Estcourt 
It is the g^atest of ironies that Haldane should 
have been one of the chief condemners of the 
train. It is the greatest of mysteries that an 
instrument of which every one disapproved should 
have continued to be used. 

The story we heard at Ennersdale was difficult 



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78 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

to extract from the Dublin Fusiliers, for with 
characteristic and jovial indifference they had 
already almost forgotten the armoured train, and 
were concerned only to praise the hospitality 
of some members of the Natal Police who were 
picketed at the railway station. " They've thrated 
us wonderful dacint/' they said, *' and we shall 
niver forget thim bhoys, whether it's in South 
Africa or in India or in Oireland oither." So 
sayings with their hands waving and the r's rolling 
in their mouths, they went away down the line. 

Now we looked to the hills beyond Estcourt 
and saw a patrol of the Imperial Light Horse 
coming towards us at a gallop. But first a man, 
swaying on his horse and held between two com- 
rades, came into the station yard. He had been 
shot in the upper part of the thigh. He could 
not ride further, and the patrol was retiring before 
the Boers, who were just beyond the crest of the 
hill. Amery and I helped him on to a trolley, 
and then pushed our unusual vehicle some miles 
towards Estcourt till we fell in with our old friends, 
the Dublin Fusiliers. They took the wounded 
man on with the utmost heartiness and merriment, 
and we have no doubt treated him "wonderful 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 79 

dacint," though we thought it better to intervene 
once at the outset when a kindly Irishman pro- 
duced a long knife and thought the pain of the 
wounded man would be removed if the bullet 
were dug out there and then. 

For days we continued to fight against time. 
Every day troops poured into the village. The 
management of the little single-line railway from 
Durban was altogether masterly. Sidings were 
being hurriedly made at this simple station, until 
the fifty Kaffir labourers vanished upon the sound 
of artillery nearer than Ladysmith. We were 
almost surrounded, some said, and the Kaffirs 
were held to be the rats who leave the sinking 
ship. But communication with Maritzburg was 
still open, and we waited — ^still fighting time. 

The first alarm had been sounded at Est- 
court on Tuesday, November 14th, but it was 
not till Saturday, November 18th, that a con- 
siderable number of Boers came within plain 
sight of the village. A long, fiat-topped hill four 
miles away was their main position, but strong 
parties came much nearer. On a high point of 
the Colenso road, just above the village. I found 
two scouts of the Natal Mounted Police being 



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8o THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

fired at from a kopje at a range of about 800 
yards ; on the railway below us a party of about 
fifty were lingering and stooping on the bridge 
over the Little Bushman's River, a mile and a half 
away — perhaps considering the best way to destroy 
it ; and behind a five-foot wall two miles distant 
a scarcely intermitted line of Boers moved from 
left to right on their ponies, jogging, trotting, or 
trippling. Soon a line behind the wall halted ; a 
few men came through a gap, others sat on the 
wall with their legs dangling. 

Now the distance to the wall had been angle- 
measured, and at this moment the naval gunners 
at the back of Estcourt let fly the first shell fired 
here. The range was 8,000 5^rds. The shell 
struck the wall ; one man at least was laid on the 
ground, and men and ponies scattered in all 
directions. Almost at the same moment the 
Dublin Fusiliers, who were lining a kopje, fired 
three long-range volleys. The trend of the Boers 
from left to right was now confirmed ; all joined 
in the movement of the majority. Past the wall 
they went, jogging, trotting, trippling, and where 
the long wall ended they dipped behind a grassy 
shoulder of hill and disappeared. We knew that 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 8i 

they were passing to the west of Estcourt, and 
that another commando was already closing upon 
us from Weenen on the east, and we said, " The 
Boers are trying to get the line south of us and 
cut us off." We all knew this, I say, but nothing 
was done then to stop the movement. I suppose 
our troops were too few for anybody to be 
detached in a hazardous encounter from the not 
easily defended village. And so the enemy passed 
' on untouched, working always from their left to 
right, trekking always to the west ; with jogging, 
trotting, or trippling ponies, the thin line unwound 
itself like a ribbon from the reel, and in the after- 
noon the hills seemed empty of the enemy. 

The adventure of two members of the Natal 
Mounted Police this day when scouting was 
splendidly audacious. At a turn of the path 
they found themselves face to face with two 
Boer pickets. On a common impulse, although 
hardly knowing what to do, they galloped at 
them. The Boers appeared to suppose that our 
scouts were their own men, and did not even 
raise their rifles. The next moment they found 
themselves being galloped towards the British 
camp with revolvers at their heads, and helped 
G 



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82 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

on their way by the bullets of the rest of 
the Boer pickets, who had now approached and 
rendered them this questionable assistance. 
Admirable Mounted Police! No men have done 
better service than these have done. In constant 
scouting they have had Uriah's place, while their 
disciplined habit of mind has always helped them 
to consider themselves complimented thereby. 
Yet because their position lies half-way between 
soldier and policeman they do not always get a 
right share of that pure military glory which is 
part of the motive of the soldier. Their need of 
just credit is the greater, and they shall have it. 
To see them sweep by in a squadron is to see a 
thing of life and cohesion, as different from a 
hurriedly raised body of horse as an eight-oared 
crew of good watermen well together is from a 
ragged, disconnected crew of novices. 

On Sunday, November 19th, all was quiet in 
Estcourt The Boers had vanished into the hills ; 
the country for miles round was clear of them ; 
but we watched the long stretching hills as one 
watches water in which a diver has disappeared, 
knowing that when they did appear again it 
would be south of us. And so it was ; that 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 83 

evening our scouts found them on a long table 
hill on the skyline about ten miles from Estcourt 

Colonel Martyr was now at Willow Grange, 
about seven miles south of Estcourt, with some of 
the mounted troops, and he determined to make a 
night attack on the Boers' new position. There 
are two things from which the Boer has a peculiar 
aversion : one is a night attack, for he likes to 
spend his night peacefully, without even the 
trouble of a too exacting picket duty; and the 
other is the bayonet — cold steel. Both are of the 
genius of the British soldier. But on that evening 
Colonel Martyr was stopped by Colonel Kitchener 
(who thought our force insufficient) when he had 
actually b^^n his march forward. The notion 
of a night attack, however, had taken possession 
of the commander, for the next night one was 
arranged with greater deliberation. The advance 
on the enemy was to be made from Willow 
Grange. 

I left for Willow Grange by the 10.30 train from 
Estcourt Several officers were on board. Colonel 
Martyr among them — men whose eyes were 
shutting involuntarily after constant night duty, 
who were all alike preoccupied and yet all alert 



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84 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

with the inimitable stinging excitement of a night 
attack. It was not a good night to march secretly; 
a still, gentle night, with a round-faced moon 
sailing placidly in the sky. At Willow Grange — a 
mere roadside station — I found that the troops 
would not march forward till two o'clock in the 
morning ; indeed, the infantry had not yet arrived, 
for they were to march from Estcourt Outside 
the station a sergeant stood over a hearty, blazing 
fire preparing gallons of coffee and cutting up 
apparently endless bread and cheese — a kindly 
man, who promised to let me know when the time 
arrived. Then I went and lay down in the station, 
and about half-past one o'clock the excellent man 
came and woke me up and said that the troops 
were ready, and added that some coffee and bread 
and cheese were also ready for me. 

Outside I found five companies of the Border 
Regiment, three of the East Surrey, one of the 
Queen's, and two guns of the Natal Field Artillery. 
On the other side of the line were the mounted 
troops under Colonel Martyr — a squadron of the 
Imperial Light Horse, bodies of the Natal Car- 
bineers, the mounted company of the King's Royal 
Riiles, Bethune's Mounted Infantry, and other 



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EXCURSIONS ANIi ALARMS 85 

detachments. It was a queer scene — ^the silver 
sky, the dark ground, the yellow fires, the hushed 
voices chaffing and prophesying, the flicker of a 
match as a man lit his pipe after his very early 
breakfast, and beyond all, across a valley, the long 
ribbed back of the dark hill on which the enemy 
lay sleeping. 

The moon was becoming glossed over with a 
filmy haze — the men noted it with satisfaction; 
but when all were ready to start, still no order 
came. In the station a door stood open, and from 
the room a horn of light protruded ; inside Colonel 
Hinde sat hour after hour writing. Some of us 
simply watched that open door, or our eyes strayed 
from it only to study the moon or to count the 
time that remained before it would be daylight 
At length a negative order came. No start would 
be made for an hour and a half. The troops lay 
down — clay-coloured rows almost invisible on the 
ground, the fires dwindled into glowing cinders, 
and for an hour and a half there was stillness 
except for the deep, convulsive cough which had 
become common among men who had lain out in 
the open, wet night after wet night, on picket duty. 

At last an order came. The troops were to 



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86 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

stand up.. They stood up. For over half an hour 
they remained without further order. And now 
the strange, dark redness, which is not light but is 
the promise of light, was curdling into bars in the 
east, and we knew that if there were to be an 
attack it would not be a night attack. The troops 
were moved a little further away from the station, 
and were paraded. In half an hour the light no 
longer streamed from the colonel's door ; the moon 
was insignificant ; it was dawn. Then came the 
sun ; the tension of waiting and anxious anti- 
cipation relaxed with a snap, and one could not 
help smiling to oneself because the night attack 
had become a sunlight parade on a pleasant mead. 

But it seemed that something might still happen, 
and I must return to Estcourt for my pony, which 
I had not been able to bring the night before. For- 
tunately an armoured engine which had been down 
the line soon ran into the station, and I was allowed 
to travel on it to Estcourt The engine was shut in 
all round with boiler walls, so that the driver could 
see nothing ahead of him. " How do you know 
that the line hasn't been pulled up ? " I asked. " I 
don't," said he ; " I trust to Providence." 

When I returned to Willow Grange General 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 87 

Hildyard had arrived and the situation had been 
explained to him. About midday I set out with 
all the mounted troops for what seemed likely to be 
a reconnaissance in force. Five miles we rode in a 
long column, with the ambulance waggons bringing 
up our rear, and then we saw the enemy still on the 
top of their long, flat hill. We halted and watched 
them, cat-and-mouse fashion, for a whole hour, and 
then, as I was assured that nothing would happen 
that day, I rode back in advance of the troops to 
Willow Grange. But at Willow Grange I was not 
to have a rest after all. I had scarcely been five 
minutes in the station when the whole camp was 
alarmed. A commando of Boers was within half a 
mile of our picket — a commando unheard of, un- 
suspected. And the mounted infantry were five 
miles away watching a party of the enemy who did 
nothing more menacing than show themselves on 
the sky-line ! 

The infantry swarmed to the hills. Above the 
station there was a steep but low hill covered with 
ironstone boulders, which gave us excellent cover ; 
beyond that there was a higher ridge of the same 
hill ; then there was a small valley, and beyond that 
again there was the great, long, flat-backed hill, 



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88 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

with its nose pointed towards us, called Brynbella. 
It was on the second ridge of the small hill that 
the Boers had appeared. Their main body was on 
Brynbella. I ran up to the first ridge, alongside a 
lieutenant of the Border Regiment whose face was 
transfigured with excitement Five minutes before 
I had seen him asleep on his back in the station ; 
now he ran, buckled his straps, panted, beamed, 
and remarked to me all in the same moment, " By 
Jove, only half a mile from my picket ! " 

The rain had b^^n to fall and we had b^^n the 
ascent together, and now the rain was a cataract for 
force. " Lie down, men ! " — this as we reached the 
crest. " Off coats ! " The men half rose to throw 
their greatcoats off. "Keep your heads down 
there ! keep down. Keep down, will you ? Do you 
want the enemy," &c. Still two or three men kept 
their coats on behind large boulders, for the rain 
sluiced down without a thought of slackening. 
" Coats off there at once 1 Do you hear what I 
say?" 

No shot had yet come from the second ridge, but 
the East Surreys on my left fired four or five shots 
— ^wild shots, I think, at doubtful figures. 

" Now then " — it was the young officer of the 
Borders speaking — " at the double ! " 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 89 

He leaped forward, ahead of his troop, and the 
men rose and ran forward in open order. No coats 
on now. I expected to hear s-s-s-s-s ! s-s-s-s-s ! 
now if ever, and to see the men drop. But no ; 
across the open they went The Boers had gone 
from their ridge, and no doubt had fallen back, con- 
cealed, on to Brynbella. Soon the whole of our 
first line occupied the second ridge. I stayed where 
I was, overlooking the station and the mead beyond 
it, to see the guns brought up and to watch for the 
cavalry. Here come the guns ! But only two of 
the Natal Field Artillery guns, with a range at best 
of 3,500 yards — popguns the men call them. 

On they came, merrily, up the first slope of the 
hill, with all the delirious rushing, clang, and clatter 
of artillery galloping. Then there came a check. 
The guns had encountered the steepness and the 
ironstone boulders. Back they went a little and 
then charged at the boulders, but it was no good, 
and the guns stayed where they were for orders. 

Suddenly I looked across the mead beyond the 
railway line, and there, topping the edge, a mile 
away, was the emerging head of the thin snake-line 
of horsemen. This was opportune. They had 
been met on their way home and warned, and now 



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90 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

they came on at a gallop to the attack — ^to the 
attack, to the banning, only now, of what they 
had already sought two days and a night without 
sleep. What a relentlessly exacting thing is 
war! 

At the station they split into two columns ; one 
stole round the right of my hill, the other to the 
left, both towards Brynbella HilL Now only to get 
the sticking guns forward and this would be a pretty 
attack! Already the Boers were creeping down 
Brynbella to meet us. I shall never forget that 
advance of their skirmishing lines, all the more 
significant because they were still out of range. It 
was simply a second nature, an impregnable in- 
stinct, which caused them to choose their steps like 
that, to steal from boulder to boulder, to drop down 
and creep and hide and keep watchful eyes, and 
yet all the while to advance and remember and 
preserve their skirmishing line until they reached 
a natural rampart of rocks and halted behind it. 
Will the British private ever learn to advance like 
that ? I fear that only a life spent in this country 
— ^yes, and perhaps the inheritance of an instinct 
from a father and forefathers— could give him that 
cat-like subtlety. 



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EXCURSIONS AND ALARMS 91 

But suddenly the appearance of things changed. 
I found the infantry supports behind me falling 
back to the station, and soon the movement set in 
through all the lines. Willow Grange was to be 
abandoned. It was thought to be indefensible. 
Already the baggage was being thrown into trucks 
in the station. The horsemen lingered round the 
flanks of the hill above the station to cover our 
retreat The infantry were told to creep away 
so that the retreat might be as far as possible 
unobserved. 

Let me record the rapidity with which it was 
accomplished; in a few minutes we were all — 
infantry, waggons, guns — stringing along the road 
to Estcourt, and we all arrived without being pur- 
sued, and without, so far as I know, leaving any- 
thing behind. A large mixed force came out from 
Estcourt to meet us, a rapidly moving body 
infantry lightly equipped, guns clattering, cavalry 
jingling. But we had no need of them to aid or 
quicken our retreat The wire from Estcourt to 
Mooi River had been cut by the Boers earlier in the 
day. Now we had given them the line, and behold 
Estcourt was detached from the world. 

It was an astonishing change, but a change 



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92 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

characteristic of war, from the night attack on our 
enemies to a retreat from them within twenty-four 
hours. The relieving force in Estcourt was itself 
in need of relief. 



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CHAPTER IV 
THE WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT 

ESTCOURT, Monday^ November 27M, 1899. 

WHAT am I to say of the work of our 
Intelligence Division ? Willow Grange had 
been surprised by one body of the Boers while 
our mounted forces had been watching another 
body five miles away. Of course we have not had 
enough mounted scouts, and the lack has been 
solely a misfortune. But then we have not had 
proper maps of Natal either, and that lack has 
been worse than misfortune. To-day, for the first 
time, maps have been distributed to non-staff 
officers, and these are merely copies of a quite 
unmilitary map (without contours and the like) in 
the library at Estcourt No doubt our maps of 
the Transvaal are excellent, but to go without 
maps of one's own country is the same presump- 

93 



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94 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

tuous mistake that the French committed in the 
Franco-German War. 

The Intelligence Division in its highest form is 
the diplomatic corps of the army; its members 
should be resourceful and experienced. For some 
weeks the head of the Intelligence Division here 
has been a lieutenant. That he should have been 
chosen at all for work so responsible, even when 
the field of choice was small, is to his great credit, 
and therefore these remarks are certainly not in 
the nature of detraction. He has been extra- 
ordinarily industrious; so close indeed has he 
been kept to his work that he has scarcely had 
time to ride a mile outside the village. But how- 
ever able, however industrious, a lieutenant cannot 
have the resource of experience and the wisdom of 
age ; and ought not one to be satisfied that the 
head of the Intelligence Division has all those 
qualities which are the outcome of ability, native 
wit, diverse information, knowledge of men, ex- 
perience of life?' 

' I have since learned that Lieutenant Campbell, the 
officer referred to above, had travelled in 4he Transvaal 
before the war, and had made an estimate of the Boer 
strength in men and guns which has been completely 



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WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT 95 

Whether or not it was the fault of the Intelli- 
gence Division, the Boers were safely on the top 
of Brynbella Hill, a position after their own hearts. 
The Boers demand one virtue, and with this they 
will not dispense, in any place which they make a 
camping ground. It must be a hill connected 
with another hill and commanded by it ; that is to 
say, it must be a ridge, or series of ridges, and not 
an isolated peak. If they are driven from their 
first position they have not only the next to retire 
to, but from the next (and this is the heart of the 
matter) they can make the first position untenable 
by the enemy who has taken it 

Brynbella was a sound choice, and the action 
proved it so. It is true that with the bayonet 
British troops can drive the Boers from a steep 
position nearly every time, but it is generally done 
with great loss to us, and at the top we find that 
the Boers are no longer there. Perhaps we are 

vindicated. If anything he overestimated the numbers, 
and said that the artillery might become quite efficient 
with a little more practice. The Intelligence Division dis- 
regarded this report, and a "Confidential Report" was 
given to ofEcfifs, which gave the traditional underestimate 
of the Boer numbers, and said that the guns were to a 
considerable extent rusty and useless. — ^J. B. A. 



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96 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

even told afterwards that " the Boers showed no 
disposition to fight" No, they did not show a 
disposition to fight according to our rules, but that 
is not a consideration which makes our loss more 
tolerable, any more than it is easier to bear a 
wound made by a thrust unpractised by the 
fencing masters. There is only one sane conclu- 
sion — to take one almost inaccessible position after 
another by the assaults of infantry is a glorious 
but unprofitable task. We must use more and 
more cavalry and mounted infantry for quickness 
of mobilisation and pursuit, and we must make up 
our minds to lose many of them. This is not a 
Soudan campaign moving like a steam roller 
across the desert ; this is not a campaign in which 
we can make our railway constantly follow us ; it 
is here, there, and everywhere, and it can con- 
ceivably be carried through well only by mounted 
forces. 

In my last letter I left the Boers who surprised 
Willow Grange encamped on Brynbella Hill. We 
in Estcourt, by our abandonment of Willow 
Grange, were cut off from all communication, 
and it seemed that in a few hours Estcourt would 
be another Ladysmith — a cup in which troops 



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WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT 97 

should sit patiently while shells were dropped into 
it from the hills. This, I say, seemed likely to 
happen unless something were done to prevent it 
Already the Boers were moving on the long back 
of Brynbella towards Estcourt Now what was 
done is the story of the Willow Grange engagement. 

On Wednesday, November 22nd, at 2 p.m., 
troops marched out of Estcourt towards the Boer 
position. The plan was to occupy and place a 
naval gun on the boldest hill outside Estcourt, the 
hill known variously as Beacon Hill (a name 
which is the gift of this campaign), Klobber's Kop, 
Griffin's Hill, or Umkumwana, which means the 
Hill of Mists. Beyond Beacon Hill, south-west- 
wards, there is a comparatively low ridge with 
easy grass country sloping away from it on both 
sides, and beyond that again is Brynbella, not 
pointing its nose towards one, as I had seen it 
from Willow Grange, but presenting to Beacon 
Hill the extent of its long steep flanks. 

The Natal Carbineers led the way out of Est- 
court, and were followed by a squadron of the 
Imperial Light Horse, the East Surreys, the West 
Yorks, the /tii Battery R.A., the Natal Royal 
Rifles, and the Durban Light Infantry. Two 
H 



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98 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

spans of oxen, the bluejackets belonging to the 
naval gun, and the Carbineers all tried their 
tempers and their strength before the twelve- 
pounder was got to the top of the Hill of Mists. 
The hill was enveloped now with nothing so gentle 
as mists, but with hail (the accompaniment of a 
tremendous thunderstorm) that brought men to a 
standstill as against a wall and bruised their hands 
and faces. 

No sooner had the gun achieved the summit 
than the Boers fired three shells at it, and as many 
were returned by the twelve-pounder. Then night 
closed in ; the troops, except the Carbineers, 
bivouacked, drenched and overwrought, in their 
positions; the Carbineers returned into Estcourt 
with marks of the storm on their bodies — one with 
his forehead cut from a hailstone two inches in 
diameter, another with his helmet dented and his 
thumb enormously swollen, and so on ; and as for 
the horses, it was with difficulty that they had 
been prevented from stampeding. Till 2 a.m. on 
Thursday morning the bivouacking troops traves- 
tied rest by lying in the open in a storm memor- 
able for violence. Rain fell continuously ; the 
skies were splitting from end to end with that 



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WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT 99 

sound, common to near and virulent thunder, 
which suggests the rending of canvas. The men 
were without their coats ; in their thin khaki 
uniforms, many of them, as an officer told me in 
the morning, groaned aloud in an abandonment of 
misery and cold. And this was their preparation 
for an act — the assault of Brynbella in the dark — 
which required a sublime example of **2 a.m. 
courage." 

The attack was made by the West Yorks and 
East Surreys, who advanced in alternate com- 
panies up either side of the long wall which con- 
tinued to the top of the hill. They had been told 
to keep a bright look-out for the enemy, and did 
so with such zeal that a few of them thought they 
saw Boers at the bottom of the hill ! There was 
panic firing for a few moments by both regiments, 
and in each regiment some men were killed down 
there by shots fired from the other, but Colonel 
Kitchener simply marched straight on with great 
coolness, and actually did not allow this sad mis- 
take to delay the advance for more than a couple 
of minutes. The casualties inflicted in this manner 
were the only injuries received by our men in the 
assault, for the single Boer sentry who gave the 



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loo THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

alarm was instantly shot through the heart, and 
the enemy disappeared incontinently on to the 
second ridge of the hill, leaving behind them 
several ponies, about 200 saddles, some equipment, 
and the sentry's body. Light dawned on the posi- 
tion as it was won, and discovered the main body 
of the enemy in considerable strength more than 
2,000 yards away. 

Soon the Boers, true to their tactics, began to 
shell and make untenable the position which they 
had just left. And under the shell fire came for- 
ward their riflemen ; Mauser bullets were added 
to the shower of assorted missiles from a Hotch- 
kiss, a Vickers-Maxim, and Krupp fieldpieces. 
A long wall across the brow of Brynbella would 
have been a reasonable protection to our infantry 
had not the Boers crept far enough round the hill 
to open an enfilading fire. I scarcely know on 
the evidence which to say was the better — the 
Boers' rifle or artillery fire. Both were first-rate, 
and if many of the shells did not burst that was 
not through the fault of the gunners, but through 
the venality of a contractor. 

About 6 a.m. our infantry on Brynbella were 
ordered to retire from their little inferno. Heaven 



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WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT loi 

help them in their retreat across the lai^e open 
patch of grass behind the wall ! That was bullet- 
swept ; but bullets are invisible ; it was enough for 
the eye of one watching from Beacon Hill, as I 
did, to see that the ground leaped in fountains 
where the shells struck. 

When the retreat was commanded, seven men 
of the West Yorks did not — some say would not 
— hear the order, and in a brave little detached 
body continued long to fire on the advancing 
Boers. But the fact is that most of our infantry 
on BrynbeXlsL were staggered with exhaustion, and 
they were ordered to retire for food and rest as 
much as for their salvation. The Queen's and 
the Borders, who were on Beacon Hill, were not 
used in any practical sense as supports. Back 
across the low ridge and the open grassland lying 
between Brynbella and Beacon Hill came the 
retreating infantry, and the shells followed them 
as they came. Here, there, over, and in between 
went the shells, and the whole expanded and 
dotted field of infantry moved slowly homewards 
untouched. It is this marvellous restraint of a 
well-directed shell-fire that always makes a battle 
seem an incredible thing. Happily the Boers did 



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102 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

not fire shrapnel, and common shell that does not 
even explode on striking — that is to say, which 
injures you only if it hits you bodily in its passage 
— ^is almost n^ligible. 

It was not really till the infantry had retired 
that the mounted troops went seriously forward. 
Round the flanks of Beacon Hill they advanced in 
two columns; that on the right was exposed to 
shell-fire which looked searching, but was actually 
ineffective, and the column did not go very near 
the enemy's position. The column on the left, 
small and heroic, was what held one's eyes. Up 
the shoulders of Brynbella it went ; the men dis- 
mounted in the last hollow and advanced on 
foot till they actually reached the position just 
abandoned by the West Yorks and East Surreys, 
not even knowing, as they told me afterwards, that 
it was an untenable place. 

The small force was only about 150 strong; 
there were some of the Imperial Light Horse, the 
mounted infantry of the King's Royal Rifles under 
Captain Eustace, and the whole detachment was 
under Colonel Martyr. At the wall — always to be 
remembered by those who were there — the new 
force halted, and the I.L.H. were soon busy help- 



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WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT 103 

ing the wounded infantrymen, some of whom were 
not yet away from the hill. The miscellaneous 
Boer fire reopened ; the 1 50 men were unsup- 
ported—they were, in fact " in the air " ; in 
front of the wall the lead was strewed as 
though the place was a rifle butts. Yet a hand- 
ful of men here and a handful there crept further 
along the back of the hill, using for cover patches 
of the diorite, or igneous boulders, which make 
rugged all the hills of Natal. Using the like cover, 
the Boer skirmishing lines came on too. 

All this time I was on the top of Beacon Hill 
with the naval twelve-pounder. Desultory shots 
were fired from it, but the rest of the artillery 
scarcely came into action. We may as well 
have the truth — ^the " finest artillery in the world " 
did very little against the Boer guns; it was for 
the greater part outranged. I do not suppose a 
gunner has often had a more tantalising task than 
Lieutenant James had with his twelve-pounder 
that day on the Hill of Mists. Not one of the 
enemy's guns could he see — could any of us see, 
though there was a good party of us gathered 
round the gun, and we lay flat on the ground 
for steadiness and devoured Brynbella with our 



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I04 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

glasses ; not a flash, not a curl of gun-smoke, not 
an inkling of where the guns were, but there plain 
enough were the crash and reverberation in the 
opposite hill and the shells striking behind the 
wall on Brynbella or in the grassland (which was 
the line of retreat) below us. 

An orderly came on to the hill. " The General's 
compliments," said he, and "he says will you 
please silence the enemy's Vickers-Maxim." 

I remember James's face of despair. He was 
tingling to do something, but where on earth was 
the enemy's Vickers-Maxim ? 

" Look here," he said to the orderly, " have you 
been out there ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" Well, you know where the enemy's guns are ? " 

"Oh, yes, sir;" and then with all the vague 
prolixity of the communicative private, the orderly 
began to tell us where the shells were striking, but 
little enough to guide us to their position. 

" But the Vickers-Maxim — where is the Vickers- 
Maxim?" 

" I don't rightly know, sir " 

" Do you know what a Vickers-Maxim is ? " 

" No, sir." 



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WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT 105 

"Well, it's the gun that goes pom-pom-pom — 
like that ; now do you know ? " 

" No, sir." 

Despair settled on every one- James did all 
that he could in the circumstances ; he shelled 
the two front lines of Boer skirmishers, one in a 
patch of boulders, the other in a donga which 
reached down the side of the hill. From both 
places we could see the little spirts of rifle smoke 
continually darting. First a " sighter " of common 
shell was fired ; none of us saw it strike. 

" Did any one see that ? " James asked. I knew 
it was not above the Boer lines, as I had been 
watching there, and I told him so. 

" It must have been below, then." 

The next shell struck just below the patch 
of boulders. After that the shells fired were 
shrapnel ; they burst apparently over the Boer 
lines, and the skirmishers instantly rose up and 
ran back to a wall which lay behind them. These 
lines had come, I should say, within 800 yards of 
our forward skirmishers. These were the lines I 
had seen advancing the whole morning, but some- 
how, as I was told afterwards, a small party of 
Boers had got within lOO yards of our 150 men 



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io6 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

"in the air." How did they do it? Well, one 
would have to be a Boer to know that. A little 
before noon our mounted troops were fairly 
retiring — the 1 50 " in the air " had done very well 
to take so long in finding out that their position 
was untenable — ^and when the Boers came to help 
them on their way with shells we saw for the first 
time the range of the enemy's largest gun. The 
mounted infantry on the right side of Beacon Hill 
came nearer and nearer home, and the shells kept 
pace with them. Surely that last one was the 
limit of the gun's range. No ! There was 
another further, and then another further than 
that, and yet another further than the last, until 
the shells were falling over a mile and a half on 
the Estcourt side of Beacon Hill. Fortunately 
none of these burst. They were fired at a great 
elevation, I should think, for one that I had 
intimate knowledge of passed over the saddle of 
my pony as I was leading him down on the 
Estcourt side of Beacon Hill and ploughed up 
the ground a little way beyond, and this was on 
a steep part of the hill where none but a shell 
dropping from a height could come. 
We all retired into Estcourt The Boers did 



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WILLOW GRANGE ENGAGEMENT 107 

not follow us, for with them, as with the Turks, 
sluggishness is the counterpart of a stolid bravery. 
After a victory the Turk sits down, smokes, and 
perhaps observes a Bairam ; the Boer lies down and 
sleeps; and in both cases exposed lines of communi- 
cation are left uncut To a layman who watched 
the Willow Grange engagement without under- 
standing the intentions of General Hildyard it 
seemed that the result of the battle was this — a hill 
had been taken and was subsequently abandoned, 
and it had been proved that the Boers had a gun 
with a far longer range than had any of ours, and 
meanwhile the enemy had saved his position. 
And to obtain this result we lost twenty dead 
(that is to say, twenty were killed or afterwards 
died of their wounds), and about seventy wounded. 
To the layman, I say, it seemed that there had 
been a considerable loss to effect — well, nothing ; 
but General Hildyard rode into Estcourt about 
lunch-time, looking well content, and he said that, 
though he deeply regretted the losses, he had 
achieved his object. 



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CHAPTER V 

FORWARD, BY THE GRACE OF THE ENEMY ! 

Frere, Tuesday y November 2Zthy 1899. 

FRIDAY, November 24th, was the day after 
the Willow Grange engagement The railway 
line north and south of Estcourt was still in the 
enemy's hands ; the action had not helped us to 
join hands with the force at Mooi River ; in short, 
Estcourt was still cut off from the world, and 
seemed even more likely than before to be shelled 
instantly by the enemy. Men were raising their 
eyes up to the surrounding hills, and already some 
of the railway staff, thinking the first shells would 
be directed to the station, had built themselves 
bomb-proof retreats. Neighbouring farmers, sur- 
prised and rendered homeless by the sudden 
march of events, were gathered in Estcourt and 

lectured us all on the futility of non-colonial 

X08 



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FORWARD ! 109 

strategy, cursed their loyalty, or reckoned their 
losses by the cattle straying on a thousand hills, 
and destined to be driven north by the Boers. 
Any time the next two days the dead and 
wounded were still being discovered and brought 
in by searching parties on the scene of the fight; 
the tinkling bell of the little church tolling the 
dead to their graves was a frequent sound, and the 
slow, dismal funeral procession, with the weird 
appearance which is imparted to it by the rifles 
carried butt-end first was a common sight. 

Some of the wounded were brought in 
after they had been treated by the Boers. 
They seemed well pleased with their treat- 
ment in the enemy's camp where, one who 
smacked his lips told me, they had had chicken 
broth. On the other hand, a few seemed to have 
been managed ignorantly by the Boer doctors, 
and I saw one of these poor fellows who was 
dying quite unnecessarily of gangrene. 

A word about the dishonourable or inhuman be- 
haviour attributed by some of the newspapers on 
each side to the other side. I see in some Pretoria 
papers "atrocities" charged to the British arms ; so 
far as I have seen the treatment of Boer prisoners 



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no THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

the charges are quite ludicrously untrue, and from 
what I have seen of the spirit of British troops in 
this campaign I should say that they would not 
cease to be so. In like manner misbehaviour has 
sometimes been ludicrously charged to the Boers. 
At the action of Brynbella Hill I heard a man 
lying on Beacon Hill say, " They're firing at the 
ambulances again,'' and one of his comrades 
replied, "Oh, they ain't particular." At that 
moment shells were certainly falling near the 
ambulance waggons, but the waggons were 
moving along at the back of Beacon Hill where 
they were completely hidden from the Boers, and 
so far as I know the Boers are not less unable 
than ourselves to see through a hill, nor is it more 
incumbent upon them than upon us to cease firing 
upon something which is a fair prey, because 
ambulance waggons drive into the zone of danger. 
One thing in any case might be done to lessen 
danger. It is hard at the long range possessed 
by modem weapons to distinguish things quickly 
and accurately, and I think the red cross on the 
ambulance waggons should certainly be painted 
larger. Why, instead of being a small cross in 
one place, should it not be painted over the whole 



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FORWARD! in 

length and breadth of the white hood ? As it is, 
I should not accuse myself of short-sight if, at two 
or three miles distance, I mistook most of our 
ambulance waggons for ammunition waggons. 

Again, I heard it said on Beacon Hill that the 
Boers had hoisted a white flag and were still firing. 
It was some time before I could get evidence as to 
the spot where the white flag was, and when it was 
pointed out to me I found that it was a white horse 
which had been lying dead all the morning on the 
side of Brynbella. On the other hand there seems 
to be no doubt that at Ladysmith the Boers sent 
an officer of artillery into the town disguised as the 
driver of an ambulance waggon. In any case 
camp gossip, and camp "shaves," are the gospel 
of Tommy, and it were almost a cruelty to deprive 
him of them, especially when one sees that his 
credulity can, with charming lack of logic, run side 
by side with the straightest and manliest convic- 
tions to the contrary, based on his own experiences. 
The wounded men who had been treated in the 
Boer camp were all agreed that their captors 
" meant to be very decent chaps," and the proof of 
this was that they had offered their prisoners 
cigarettes and had been sedulous in shaking hands 



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112 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

with them. " It's not you fellows we want to shoot," 
one of the Boers had said, " it's the officers." The 
mortality among the officers proves the remark 
true enough, and the absence of casualties amongst 
officers at Brynbella was perhaps due to the fact 
that there the officers, or most of them, modified 
their distinctive marks and sank their identity in 
the ranks by carrying rifles. Wisdom in South 
African warfare will perhaps spread from so brave 
and trusted a mentor as Colonel Baden-Powell, 
and will in time overcome the proud but costly 
tradition of the British officer. 

To return to my wounded men — one of them 
was astonished rather than resentful at having 
been examined as to his religious beliefs. 
"Are you a Christian?" a Boer asked him. 
"No," said Tommy, the brazen infidel. "Then 
you can never win battles," said his captor. 
Tommy thought that an odd sequence, but the 
philosopher will see that a conviction, or even a 
superstition, of that quality is after all a concrete 
weapon which the serious calculator must set 
against guns and ammunition in his reckoning. 
One man confident is better than two without 
confidence of whatever origin ; and the spirit of. 



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FORWARD ! 113 

say, one hundred men who have made themselves 
victors by prayer must be met by (let one say) an 
extra field piece with a range of at least 6,000 yards. 
When one comes to think of it, there is a curious 
contrast in this war — ^the Boer with his simple 
system of commando, his lack of conventional 
military rigour, his obedience, when all has been 
said, to one man ; and ourselves, to whom war has 
become, by the traditions of a class, a sort of service 
game with medals and kudos for prizes. It is 
kudos versus Kruger in one, perhaps not the deepest, 
of its aspects. 

The two days after Brynbella were certainly a 
gloomy time in Estcourt I know of only one 
incident that tempered them and that was due, 
characteristically, to the Dublin Fusiliers. When 
Estcourt came to be shelled, as we expected it 
would be, we should have no gun with which to 
match that extraordinary long-range weapon of 
the Boers which had appeared at Brsmbella. 
Therefore the Dublin Fusiliers thought that this 
forty-pounder, as it was supposed to be, would be 
better out of the way. They sent a formal " requisi- 
tion " to the Greneral demanding that they should 
be allowed to capture it, and the General answered 
I 



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114 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

that he would allow them to try if he saw a good 
opportunity. Here was a spirit indeed — after all 
the losses and hardships of the fighting north of 
Ladysmith, after becoming kitless and homeless, 
after losing nearly a whole company in the 
armoured train disaster, after having their number 
reduced to about 630, formally to requisition the 
General that they should be allowed to sacrifice 
themselves in an assault on the great gun! In 
war the Dublins may easily be forgiven the 
military eccentricities which are the sorrow of 
their officers in peace. A fatalist or a fanatic 
is a hard man to beat in battle, but perhaps 
the man of unquenchable high spirits is harder. 

How could one correct or extinguish the 
spirit of the hero in this little narrative? — An 
officer saw a private of the Dublins riding into 
Estcourt on a Boer pony, to which, as the officer 
suspected, with a penetration that was not likely 
to err in the circumstances, the rider had no right. 
Obviously the rider had never been on a horse 
before. The officer thought there was good reason 
to stop him. 

" What are you doing with that horse ? Where 
did you get it ? " 



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FORWARD! 115 

"If you plaze, sorr," was the answer, " I 
met a gintleman, I think he was a Boer, an' 
the gintleman, he sez, * Yell have to come 
along wid me, young man,* an' I sez, * All right, 
sorr ; ' but me roifle happened to be loaded, an', 
if you plaze, sorr, it wint off furrst ! " 

" And where are you taking the horse to now ? " 
the officer demanded. 

"I'm going to join the mounted infanthry," 
said the man. 

And was it not a member of the same regiment 
into whose hands a Boer officer fell after the battle 
of Dundee ? The Boer, about to be looted, thought 
to save his property by pleading his dignity. 

" I'm a field-cornet," he said. 

" An' if ye were a field-thrumpet it would make 
no difference at all," said the Irishman ; " ye'U 
have to shell out, ould man." 

On Saturday, November 25th, I accompanied a 
party of cavalry who made a reconnaissance 
westward from Estcourt. On all sides the scouts 
had told us that the Boers were trekking north, 
and the cavalry marched towards Ulundi — not the 
Ulundi of the Zulu War, of course — in the hope 
of cutting off some of the waggons and cattle. 



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ii6 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

A party of the enemy was seen, but was con- 
sidered too powerful to be attacked, and the 
cavalry returned without doing anything. That 
night there was no longer a doubt about the 
movement of the enemy ; they were moving bodily 
north with their guns and waggons, and driving 
before them all that they needed of the sleek 
cattle of Natal. 

And so Estcourt was not to be shelled 
after all ; by the act of the enemy the 
relieving force was relieved. The Boers had 
discovered, what we had not yet proved to them, 
that the position they occupied between the 6,000 
odd men of Estcourt and the 8,000 odd men of 
Mooi river was too precarious. Also, as we dis- 
covered from dispatches taken on Boer prisoners, 
they were being drawn back by news of the 
British advance from Cape Colony. 

Now what was this force of Boers which 
had raided Natal, chosen its own routes, selected 
its cattle, hauled guns which outranged ours on to 
almost impregnable hills, cut off in Estcourt part 
of the force which was meant to relieve Ladysmith, 
and caused the pickets of Mooi river to fall back 
closely on to the village ? I do not know that our 



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FORWARD! 117 

scouts were ever able accurately to determine the, 
numbers, but I have the evidence of a well- 
known and intelligent farmer who stayed in his 
home near Weenen after the district had been 
occupied by the Boers. He kept his cattle, saved 
his home, and conversed daily with the Boers. 
His evidence was this: that the party of the 
enemy which had passed west of Estcourt towards 
Willow Grange a week before was, roughly, 650, 
and that the body which had passed east of 
Estcourt through Weenen was, roughly, 3,000. 
The two bodies after skirting Estcourt had joined 
near Willow Grange. For myself, I should say 
that the Boers who passed west of Estcourt were 
certainly more than 650 ; let me say at the out- 
side, however, 2,000. As to those who passed by 
his own home, through Weenen, he must be 
allowed to know better. The conclusion is that 
the Boers who raided Natal south of Ladysmith 
numbered at the most about 5,000 men. 

At dawn on Sunday, November 26th, there was 
but one story — the Boers had vanished ; the hills 
were empty ; Estcourt was safe ; forward, by 
grace of the enemy, forward! Already troops 
were dropping in from Mooi River ; in a few 



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ii8 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

hours the line was reopened and the wires 
mended ; and along all the road north towards 
Frere moved one long, slow line of cavalry, troops, 
guns, waggons, teams of sixteen oxen, teams of 
mules ten-in-hand (often enough ten-out-of-hand), 
equipment, the pantries and the kitchens of an 
army, bakers, cooks, farriers, followers of all sorts, 
doctors, bearers, ambulance waggons — the wonder- 
ful dusty spectacle of an army moving. Forward ! 
The tide had turned ; you could see it in men's 
faces. And to signalise the turn some one of 
importance arrived the next morning quite unex* 
pectedly — ^some one who had come to find out 
just what had been happening in Natal all this 
time. 
Sir Redvers BuUer was in Pietermaritzburg. 



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CHAPTER VI 
WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH 

Frere, Thursday^ December ^th^ 1899. 

IN my last three letters I gave a bare narrative 
of the events round Estcourt ; if there was 
any irony in the narrative it was "the irony of 
literal statement " ; irony was the only commentary 
which escaped me. But it is necessary to correct 
even the small licenses of irony. It may be said 
that the inactivity which allowed the Boers to raid 
Natal, south of Ladysmith, till they came within 
an easy distance of Maritzburg, if not exactly 
masterly, at all events served a quite deliberate 
purpose. It may be said that it was intended to 
keep— to entertain, if you like — those detached 
commandoes among the rich cattle country of 
Natal, because first the pressure on Ladysmith would 
be somewhat relieved thereby, and secondly, while 

"9 



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I20 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

nothing was risked and no lives were lost in Natal, 
the Boers would still for all purposes be driven back 
sooner or later, since no one doubted that the news 
of the British advance on the southern border of 
the Free State would draw them back to defend 
their homes. In this view the price of success was 
merely the wrecking of a few hundred homesteads 
and the loss of thousands of cattle in Natal. The 
farmers alone stand out against the possibility of 
this view. It is a view that demanded statement ; 
but for myself I think there are considerations 
which outweigh its value. 

The Generals south of Ladysmith, in Natal, 
may indeed have been ordered not to provoke a 
general engagement, but that they enjoyed toler- 
able freedom of action is proved by one fact — the 
Willow Grange engagement. Give a man freedom 
to undertake an operation of that extent, and he is 
equally free to arrest detached columns of Boers 
driving north their waggons and their acquired 
cattle, or to impede parties dispatched to wreck 
the line or blow up the bridges. The arrival of 
Sir Redvers Buller at the front, in Natal, showed 
that he had altered what are generally under- 
stood to have been his original plans and come 



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WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH 121 

to pull things straight Let us suppose then 
that things have been let slide or even bungled. 
Is that a desperate admission ? Rather one might 
think that something of a muddle to begin with 
was the necessary stimulus to every British 
campaign. "This is a muddle worth retrieving" 
is after all a considerable motive. Perhaps the 
historian will thus be induced to attribute to us 
the truest quality of the soldier — the ability to 
play an uphill game. We are muddlers often 
enough, but then we muddle on till the muddle 
comes right, and in the end it will be found that the 
victors and the muddlers are the same ; and the War 
Office is righted after all, even though it be riddled 
with criticism and red all over with tape. 

A popular view of war makes it all ex- 
cursions and alarms. But the real campaign is 
a series of long waits, terminated and introduced 
by a battle; even in what seemed to be the 
crowded hours of the short Greek war there were 
only six days* hard fighting in thirty days. At 
Frere we are now spending a period of deep and 
peculiar calm, a calm significant because it is itself 
a symptom of the storm. It is a period of pre- 
paration — the machine is being perfected — and it 



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122 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

will end, if the Boers stay in their present position 
near Colenso, in one of the great battles, perhaps 
the greatest battle of the campaign. When the 
Boers trekked north from Estcourt they passed 
safely across the Tugela, which they had long 
hesitated to cross, and never greatly liked to feel 
lay behind them, and sat down upon the hills 
above Colenso. 

On their way they destroyed the iron railway 
bridge across the river at Frere — a job that 
gladdens the professional eyes (even though it be 
to their own disadvantage) of the users of ex- 
plosives from the mines. It is a beautiful job. 
The bridge has been lifted bodily from its masonry 
piers and lies in the river bed, the iron framework 
and girders contorted like a tangle of forest 
creepers. The country for a few hundred yards 
round was bombarded with shell-like pieces of 
iron. Only one omission makes the job short of 
perfection ; the masonry piers are uninjured. 
They were loaded with explosive, but as an expert 
explained to me, it was put in horizontally instead 
of diagonally and so had not the necessary lifting 
power. " But," said my expert with gracious pro- 
fessional condescension, *•* the man that did the job 



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WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH 123 

wasn't doing his first job by any manner of means." 
Electric wires lay about the wreckage, from which 
we gather that the explosion was caused by 
electricity. 

Frere bridge is the first of a series of scien- 
tific disasters that we shall view as we go north. 
Already the great railway bridge over the Tugela 
at Colenso has been destroyed — a bridge over 
200 yards long that cost ;f 80,000 ; the fine road 
bridge near it is charged with explosive but is not 
yet destroyed ; and after these we shall find the 
wrecks of the series of bridges at difficult places all 
the way to the north of Natal. Frere bridge has 
been replaced by a trestle bridge and a diverted 
embankment, both built not by the engineers, but 
by the staff of the Natal Government Railways. 
Two days ago the first train passed over it. 

There are three things that vie with one another 
in the speed with which they change the face of 
the country — a bank holiday, a race meeting, and 
a camp. Ten days ago Frere was a little dark- 
green plantation hiding a few iron-roofed houses, 
and set in the midst of a heaving sea of downs. 
Then a camp came, and to-day there is a patch, 
nearly two miles square, of brown, trodden, and 



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124 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

dusted grass with brown tracks radiating from it 
into the grassy distances. To Frere the damage 
of the enemy's occupation has been less than we 
have necessarily inflicted ourselves. The Boers 
looted the houses, but there were few to loot 
The damage they did strikes one as so curiously 
petty and trifling that one looks round for their 
interesting motive. To burn every house, as the 
Turks do, is an intelligible act, because, even 
though the motive be mainly savagery, the result 
is to deprive the enemy of shelter. But the Boers 
made no attempt to bum; they did nothing to 
make a house useless. What they did was 
this : they took books and tore out the leaves and 
scattered them everywhere ; they pulled drawers 
out of chests and broke them ; they ripped open 
mattresses and distributed the flock with amazing 
industry equally over the floors and stairs; they 
burned photographs ; they broke the glass of pic- 
tures and windows; they stuffed clocks upside 
down into flower-pots ; and they pulled up flowers 
in the garden and threw them in at the windows. 
In short, the damage they did did not call for the 
hand of the carpenter or the builder so much as 
for the labour and patience of a charwoman. 



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WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH 125 

About a mile beyond Frere station towards 
Colenso lies the wreck of the armoured train — a 
melancholy heap— one truck on its side (a military 
cobbler using it as his shop), another upside down 
with its wheels sticking up in the air, two others 
standing on the line. There at the curve, at the 
bottom of the decline down which the train tilted 
at full speed after the enemy had been seen, is the 
broken rail successfully designed to send the train 
to destruction ; and there on either side of the line 
are the ridges, profitably close, from which the 
Boers poured their fire. The trucks are ripped 
through and through with shells — the holes round 
and clean as a whistle where the shells came in, 
and jagged and gaping where they passed out — 
and spattered over with the marks of lead. And 
beside the wreckage is a more melancholy sight 
still — ^the little mound that covers impartially the 
poor fellows of the Dublin Fusiliers and the 
Durban Light Infantry who were killed and buried 
by the enemy. 

Round the grave the devotion of the Border 
Regiment has placed a stone border, and at the 
head erected a tombstone and a little cross of 
wire. On the tombstone are chiselled the words 



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126 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

(displaying a naif inaccuracy that one would 
not have altered for worlds, seeing that it clearly 
assigns the whole invention to the generosity and 
the brains of the private soldier) : " Here lieth the 
remains of those who were killed in the armoured 
train on Nov. isth, 1899." 0>^ ^^ grave itself 
there is studded with empty cartridge cases, many 
of course used by the dead men themselves, this 
inscription : " Erected by the Border Regiment in 
Memory of our Comrades." Here, one foresees, is a 
monument destined to last, destined to be renewed 
when it becomes obscure, and always to provide a 
Mecca for the excursionist. 

I found a private of the Borders one morning 
melting in the hot sun while he fiercely chiselled 
at the inscription on the tombstone; another 
was plastering the cement into the stone border 
round the grave ; a group of soldiers lounged 
round watching and smoking. Then we did not 
know how soon we might be ordered to move 
on from Frere; and "You'll 'ave to buck up, 
ole man, to get it finished," said one of the on- 
lookers. " Go on ! " said the chiseller, who took 
out his pipe, spat, and continued chiselling fiercely. 
It was finished in plenty of time after all, and 



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WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH 127 

yesterday the grave was consecrated with a joint 
service held by two Church of England chaplains 
and one Roman Catholic. 

Perhaps 2,000 troops were gathered round the 
spot; closer to it were Prince Christian Victor, 
General Hildyard and his staff, and others. After 
the service the buglers played the " Last Post " ; but 
the firing party which was present did not after all 
fire over the grave, because the rule at the front is 
that there should be no unnecessary noise ** in the 
presence of the enemy." Those who remain of the 
Dublins were the last to leave the ground, and 
they were marched away winding round the grave 
in a thin column. "Company So-and-so, eyes 
left ! " was the order as each company passed the 
grave. For a moment each man cast his eyes on 
the sad little monument underneath which his 
comrades lay, and then " Eyes right ! ** and away 
he went, looking rigidly in front of him, with an 
official term imposed upon his grief. 

When the tail of the column had disappeared 
the grave remained alone for a little hushed 
interval, and then detached soldiers not on duty 
came hurrying across the ground to study it with 
added interest The ceremony was over. Thus 



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128 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

the private soldier is made to feel that he is cared 
for and treated with dignity in death, even though 
his identity be expressed by " No. 32456." 

As I went back to my tent after this ceremony 
I found another grave, a result of the same disaster, 
beside the line, nearer Frere — ^a humble, pathetic 
little grave where more men of the Dublins had 
fallen in their retreat " A Company, R.D.F.," was 
picked out in flint stones on the sides of the mud ; 
in the grasp of a damp made of twisted tin was 
a scrap of paper on which some Irish soldier had 
written in pencil, with the tenderness of the Roman 
Catholic, "Pray for the souls of our dear comrades," 
and at the head of the grave perhaps the same 
hand had stuck in the earth a picture, torn from 
a book, of the Madonna and Child. 

Daily the camp grows bigger as the troops 
are concentrated, as the machine is perfected that 
is to be launched to the relief of Lpadysmith. 
The spirit of Frere is different from that of 
Estcourt; the notion of advancing is no doubt 
something, but the arrival of Sir Redvers Buller 
is almost everything. I have never seen troops 
re-tempered like this by one man since I saw 
the extraordinary change which came over the 



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WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH 129 

American army on the sudden arrival of General 
Miles before Santiago. It is certain that we shall 
not advance before Sir Redvers Buller has 
collected all the troops that he can reasonably 
use. Some of the horses will need time to recover 
even after they have arrived, but on the other 
hand Ladysmith cries out to be relieved. At 
least we shall try this time to match, if not better, 
the range of the Boer guns. Already some 47 
naval guns, or forty pounders, stand in the camp, 
and the sight of them is specially cherished by the 
infantry, whose path is made easy or rough only 
by guns, guns, guns. Meanwhile we wait in our 
symptomatic calm, feeling that its depth is intenser 
by comparison with what is to be. 

Routine, however, is routine, and that goes on for 
ever. Every morning the camp stands to arms at 4 
a.m. At that dark hour I have seen troopers kicking 
their tired horses in the ribs to make them stand 
up; and a little later, if there is early recon- 
naissance work to be done, the squadrons are 
clearly parading, the sun is showing over the great, 
green, swelling downs and pinking the white- 
walled town of tents. Another day has begun 
The squadrons are off in the green and pink light, 
K 



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130 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

or if not they are back to their tents to have 
some more sleep. Evening is often more memor- 
able than sunrise ; there is then a furnace of a 
sunset behind the Drakensberg, and the great, 
solid, serrated range is wrapped in a blue, dusky 
atmosphere of smoke — the sunset atmosphere 
which belongs to a land of grass-fires — like the 
bloom on a black grape. These are times when 
men have the opportunity to bathe, and the river is 
dancing all day with soldiers washing themselves 
and their clothes. The river is khaki-coloured — 
everything is khaki-coloured here — ^the muddy 
banks, the water, the baked roads, the trodden 
camp, the diorite boulders — so that the use of 
khaki uniforms is a triumph of what the man of 
science calls protective mimicry. 

The Provost-Marshal has made a few excursions 
to neighbouring farms, and collected evidence 
against those who are suspected of disloyalty. I 
think if the suspicion is warranted now, men like 
Pretorius and Labuschagne, members of the 
Natal Parliament, should have been arrested long 
ago. As it is the evidence seems to be that they 
fed the burghers ; one can conceive that the most 
loyal farmer in Natal, who happened to have 



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WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH 131 

stayed on his farm, would have done as much, 
recognising that his farm now lay in the enemy's 
country, and fearing that his life was the cost 
of refusal. Splendid, if inevitable, paradox, that 
a man should be arrested for feeding the burghers, 
the object of the war being to make it possible 
for that man to become their fellow-<:itizen ! 

A long wait in camp enables one to know one's 
fellow campers a good deal better. When you 
have given a man a nickname you may reckon 
that you know him well ; and there is scarcely 
a colonial force that has not been nicknamed 
now. Bethune's Mounted Infantry are " Bethune's 
Buccaneers ; " Thomeycroft's Mounted Infantry are 
** Thomeycroft's Insects " — I do not know why ; 
the squadron of the Imperial Light Horse is 
" The Imperial Light Looters ; " some of the 
South African Light Horse, who have just arrived 
with bunches of cocks' feathers in their hats, were 
received with friendly rapture at once as "The 
Pipe-cleaners ; " but none of these names need 
be taken to bear a too serious relation to facts, 
or to be detrimental to their possessors. Natal 
has indeed given of her best What could be 
better than the Natal Carbineers — the oldest of 



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132 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Natal volunteer bodies? Who does not know 
Major McKenzie, counted the best horseman in 
Natal, best of friends, greatest of dare-devils, than 
whom no one has a quicker temper, unless it be 
his well-known brother. Both are among the 
first polo-players of Natal. Was it not the Major 
who made himself for ever admired by asking 
an opponent who crossed him at polo to step 
down there and then and fight? 

Like the Natal Field Artillery, with their pop- 
guns, all these forces are handicapped, only 
less so, by their weapons ; they carry the 
Martini-Metford, which came in evolution be- 
tween the Lee-Metford and the present Lee- 
Enfield. And as somebody has asked with 
ironical indignation, " Was not the Martini- 
Metford discarded weeks ago ? " But the 
army wants more of these mounted forces. In- 
cessantly to raid with cavalry and mounted 
infantry is one of the secrets, I am convinced, of 
fighting the Boers. Think of what Wheeler did 
in the American Civil War with his Confederate 
cavalry, raiding towns sometimes forty miles in 
the enem/s rear, stinging Sherman constantly if 
not always wounding him, and himself scarcely 



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WE COLLECT OUR STRENGTH 133 

ever losing .a man. Never to leave the enemy 
alone, to cut off three men this day and two the 
next, to deal a succession of small blows — this is 
the plan of Colonel Baden-Powell, and he is one 
of the men (you can count them on your 
fingers) who have made their reputations in 
South Africa. 

Captain Cayzer, by a far and risky journey 
to the east of Frere, has got on to a hill where 
he opened communication by heliograph with 
Ladysmith. Now we know that the besieged 
are able to read our flash-light signals at night. 
Every night, and nearly all night, the shaft of 
vivid light shoots up into the clouds and re- 
bounds as quickly into the box from which it 
came. So it goes on flickering forth and flickering 
back, and what it all means, goodness knows! 
Only this we know, that at the end of this calm 
we advance to relieve Ladysmith. The Boers 
wait for us on the hills across the Tugela. 



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CHAPTER VII 
THE EVE OF THE FIRST ASSAULT 

Frere, Tuesday, December i2ih, 1899. 

WE shall leave behind us here a piece of 
country that will bear marks of our 
encampment for years. Here are brought together 
20,000 men; here is one of the largest British 
camps ever formed abroad, and it is only a unit of 
the whole ; it is larger by 6,000 men than the 
whole of the Natal Field Force as it was originally 
imagined by the War Office. This great increase 
is the decree of the enemy's strategy, and by this 
camp we pay that strat^y a concrete compliment 
The column that will advance to the relief of 
Ladysmith is composed as follows : — 

Infantry. — General Hart's Brigade (the Irish 
Brigade) : The Inniskilling Fusiliers, Dublin 
Fusiliers, Connaught Rangers, the Border Regi- 

134 



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THE EVE OF THE FIRST ASSAULT 135 

ment General Hildyard's Brigade (the English 
Brigade) : The Devons, West Yorkshire, Queen's, 
East Surrey. General Lj^elton's Brigade (the 
Light Brigade) : 3rd Battalion 60th Rifles, ist 
Battalion Rifle Brigade, Durham Light Infantry, 
Scottish Rifles. General Barton's Brigade (the 
Fusilier Brigade) : The 7th Royal Fusiliers, Scots 
Fusiliers, Irish Fusiliers, Welsh Fusiliers. 

Cavalry, — The ist Royal Dragoons, the 13th 
Hussars. 

Mounted Infantry. — One squadron Imperial 
Light Horse, Bethune's M.I., Thorneycroffs M.I., 
Natal Carbineers, Natal Police, Combined 
Mounted Company of 60th Rifles and Dublin 
Fusiliers, three squadrons South African Light 
Horse. 

Artillery, — The 7th, 14th, and 66th R.A. 
Batteries (A brigade division) and the 64th and 
73rd Batteries; the Naval Brigade of 250 men, 
including oflicers, with two 47 guns and fourteen 
twelve-pounders. 

Corps troops. 

While we stay here the routine of field service is 
fulfilled and little else. Every day the sharp little 
eyes of the heliograph wink into the sleepy camp 



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136 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

from the surrounding hills. The signallers have a 
diverting time, as they are never quite sure whether 
they are going to embark upon a conversation 
with friends or with Boers. " T.A.F.," b^ins the 
Boer when he has hooked one of our signallers 
with the invitations of his heliograph. No one 
appears quite to know what " T.A.F." means, but it 
seems to be the Boers' sign for the beginning of a 
message. It is the " Are you there ? " of the 
telephone. In any case when a heliograph begins 
with " T.A.F." it is certain that a Boer is at the 
other end of the flashes. 

The Boer is not in the least embarrassed when 
he finds that he has not hooked a friend ; his 
message often goes on in English, but without the 
stops which our signallers use, so that it is never as 
deceptive as it is meant to be. 

" Who are you ? *' asked a British signaller the 
other day when he thought he had a Boer signalling 
to him. 

" I belong to the Durham Light Infantry," was 
the answer. 

" What is the number of the regiment ? " asked 
the suspicious signaller. 

The Boer did not know that, but with engaging 



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THE EVE OF THE FIRST ASSAULT 137 

efTrontery said instead that he was a corporal in 
the 9th Hussars. Then he was switched off, so to 
speak. 

Another time when one of our signallers found 
himself speaking to a Boer, " How is Joubert ? " he 
asked. 

" Go to the devil ! " was the answer ; and the 
reply to that was, "All right, but you'll be there 
first." 

Or, again, a Boer signalled to us, '* Send assis- 
tance to General White at once" — advice which 
will not be neglected. 

Captain Cayzer has done well twice to open 
communication with Ladysmith by means of an 
intermediate hill. The first time he was soon 
hunted home by the Boers, but the next he has 
stayed longer. In Frere, as in Estcourt, we are 
hidden from Ladysmith by a high ridge, but from 
his mountain east of Frere Cayzer can look down 
the valley in which Ladysmith lies. Our signallers 
watch the mountain earnestly, and occasionally 
are rewarded with news from Ladysmith — news 
that suddenly sparkles on the side of the dark 
mountain like a diamond on velvet. 

By a tacit understanding Sunday is nearly always 



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138 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

allowed to be a day of rest, free even from aflfairs 
of outposts. Then church parades are held through 
all the camp. Tommy sings heartily if he can get 
so much as the fifth share in the hymn-book, but 
it is rather to be feared that when he sings the 
militant hymns which are always held appropriate 
to these occasions, when he shouts "Onward, 
Christians, onward go," and "Fight the fight, 
maintain the strife," he is thinking less in figures 
of speech than of going onward to Ladysmith. 
On Sunday, as well as on every other day in the 
week, every man who is a free agent and respects 
himself visits the popular conical hill from 
which the best view of the enemy's position is to 
be had. The hill-top is always crowded ; many of 
us have our favourite seats — ^front seats — among 
the boulders, from which we look over the country 
across which we must soon advance. Some one 
has suggested that we should attach our cards to 
our places and reserve them. It is a fascinating 
but not highly encouraging occupation to sit there 
and study the almost insuperably strong Boer 
position — ridge upon ridge behind the river Tugela, 
a position which bears on its face, as on a 
phylactery, the golden texts of Boer strategy. 



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THE EVE OF THE FIRST ASSAULT 139 

There is not a kopje there but, if it be taken by an 
enemy, can be made immediately untenable from 
the kopje behind it 

The following conversation may be taken as 
occurring any day between sunrise and sunset on 
the conical hill : — 

Scene. A picket, with officers scattered among 
the boulders ; many officers not on duty ; a few 
correspondents ; a naval officer with a large tele- 
scope on a tripod ; a staff of heliographists with 
a heliograph. All the officers are looking through 
glasses across the plain to the ridges behind 
Colenso. The men of the picket are looking in 
the same direction, and have looked for hours, 
without glasses, and can see nothing. Their con- 
versation is proportionately vague. Enter newly 
arrived and distinguished staff officer, on hill for 
the first time. 

Staff Officer. Now where are all these Boers ? 

Captain with Picket. Til show you, sir. {All 
present put up their glasses.) The biggest camp 
is under Grower's Kloof among those trees. 

S.O. {after looking laboriously). I don't see it. 

Captain. They're pretty well hidden, sir; they're 
devils for hiding themselves. 



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I40 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

S.O. What's the good of my looking if they're 
hidden ? 

Captain, Well, you can see some tents, of course, 
sir. 

S.O, Near that black patch beyond the sun- 
light, eh ? 

Captain {politely ^ having realised that S.O. is 
looking in an entirely wrong direction). You see 
this kraal ? 

S.O. The far one? 

Captain. No ; just below this hill ? 

S.O. Yes. 

Captain. Very well. Look right over that, and 
you see a white road winding up to the left Got 
that, sir ? 

S.O. Yes. 

Captain. Well, look a little beyond that, rather 
to the left, and you see two trees. 

S.O. Yes. 

Captain. Look over the left tree, and you'll see 
a reddish low hill. 

S.O. Yes. 

Captain {triumphantly). Well, there's the camp 
to the left of it Quite plain. I can see with 
my naked eye now. {S.O. is silent. Both realise 



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THE EVE OF THE FIRST ASSAULT 141 

that^ after all^ they are looking at quite different 
objects^ 

S,0. I believe they've bolted. 

Naval Officer, There are certainly fewer camps 
than there were. 

Voice of Private {overheard in undertone^ Well, 
I ain't seen nothing. 'Ope they 'aven't gone. We'll 
'ammer you, Kroojer, my son. 

Subaltern of Picket {suddenly). By gad I Who 
are these coming across the plain ? Boers ? 

Bystanders. Oh, the Boers wouldn't come across 
here. 

Subaltern, They were in that kraal over there 
yesterday, anyhow. {AU watch the advancing 
horsemen intently. Some with inferior field-glasses 
say, "They're only cattle.") 

Naval Officer {decisively). It's some of our scouts 
coming in. {Attention gradually relaxes^ 

S.O. (who does not yet understand South African 
atmosphere), I see some tents now. Anybody 
seen those yet? On that flat-topped hill, about 
eight miles away, just behind Colenso. 

A Bystander, Oh, that's Umbulwana, just above 
Ladysmith — twenty miles away. 

S.O, Oh, no. Really ! {A low rumble is hear d^ 



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142 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

All, That's a gun. Ladysmith is getting it hot 
this morning. 

A Correspondent By Jove I Look at the smoke ! 

Another Correspondent. My dear chap, that's a 
grass fire. 

Officer with Heliograph {suddenly). There they 
are! Now, then! {One of the heliograph staff 
snatches out note-book. A brilliant winking light 
is seen on hill many miles east.) Grood old Cayzer ! 
Tell me when he drops. 

Man with Book. Yes, sir. {A pause.) Dropped ! 

Officer. Well ; whafs he doing now? 

Man with Book. Calling for light, sir. 

Officer. Bad luck ! He's lost it {Signalling 
soon continues. Heliograph with flashing glasses 
clicks like a telegraphing instrument.) 

A Subaltern {to another subaltern). Can you 
read it? 

The Other Subaltern. No. It's all in code, any- 
how. 

First Subaltern. Yes, I suppose so. 

Second Subaltern. GrOt any water ? 

F.S. {handing a bottle). It's hot. 

5.5. Righto ! Doesn't matter. 

F.S. Just feel that stone. 



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THE EVE OF THE FIRST ASSAULT 143 

5.5. {putting his hand on brown boulder and 
instantly drawing it away.) By Jove! 

(All left looking across the plain^ which shivers 
in the heat. Picket^ heHographists, visitors^ all are 
gradually replaced by others ; but conversation on 
hill'top still continues in similar strain.) 

Frere Camp is ready to move. The men are 
more than ready; only the horses which have 
arrived lately need further to relax their stiflF 
joints. After the journey from Durban most of 
them want at least two days to recover from 
that nightmare of terror. Think of a horse care- 
fully packed into a box in an English railway 
train, and then think of these horses put shoulder 
to shoulder into open trucks, looking over the sides 
as though they were in an open boat, terrified 
by the noise and the visible motion. An officer 
told me of the night he spent in a horse truck. 
He told me how it took five hours to travel four 
miles ; how the horses leaped with fear till some 
of them had their forelegs over the sides of the 
trucks ; how he had to get them back by levering 
them up with poles ; how when the train slowed 
or stopped the whole weight of the jammed horses, 
which was checked by no cross-pieces, was thrown 



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144 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

against the end of the truck so that he thought 
it must inevitably give way ; and how, for himself, 
he expected that he might be at any moment 
down among a violent sea of hoofs and legs and 
rolling bodies. 

Unfortunately the downs about Frere, which 
lies in a belt of country too little watered even 
in the rainy season, holds little nourishment 
for horses. Mules do far better ; oxen eat 
anything with contentment ; but the more 
fastidious horses often turn aside with disgust 
even from the imported American hay, which is 
not exactly suited to their palate. To the corres- 
pondent the need to choose animals for transport 
is a serious burden. The horse that strays a little 
way from the tent is the easy prey of the camp 
looter. Mules have this advantage, that they 
cannot stray far when they are tied together ; tie 
four mules together, and when they gallop they 
stand still, for no committee of four mules ever 
agreed upon a direction. They travel quickest 
when they sink their differences in hunger and 
simply eat their way forward in a steady row; 
thus they will travel perhaps half a mile in five 
hours. All this is in favour of the mule ; but then 



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THE EVE OF THE FIRST ASSAULT 145 

he who undertook to drive a team of mules in 
harness would be something more than a corre- 
spondent For myself, I have decided that my 
baggage shall go in a Scotch cart drawn by two 
oxen. I have lost my oxen only twice ; once 
when I turned them loose to feed too near their 
old home, whither they returned precipitately like 
the leal true cat, and once in a thunderstorm at 
night 

It is gratifying to find that among horses 
the best looking are the 'bus horses of London 
which were chosen to join the artillery teams. 
Can you help looking with grateful and affectionate 
eyes on the animal which once drew you in the 
tardy 'bus from Liverpool Street to the Bank? 
Those times, industrious 'bus horse, were the hard- 
ship which was needed to make you endure better 
than others the cramping sea journey, and now 
the heat, the dust, and the arduous hauling! 
Some of the 'bus horses took the sea journey 
as though it were a rest ordered by the veterinary 
surgeon for their health, and now in resplendent 
strength they jib and caper. " Stamp the board, 
George ! " said an artilleryman to his fellow-driver 
the other day when a 'bus horse was upsetting the 
L 



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146 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

whole team ; and the report upon which I rely 
says that after the driver had ejaculated ''Right 
be'ind!" the horse helped to draw the gun for 
nothing all the way. 



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MAJOK-GENERAL SIR FRANCIS CLERV, K.C.B. 



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CHAPTER VIII 
THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 

Chievbley, Tuesday^ December 19M, 1899. 

THE greater part of the Ladysmith relief 
column marched obscurely away from Frere 
on Thursday, December 14th, in the first light of the 
morning, and in a strange mixture of smoke, dust, 
and mist As the light thickened, black patches, 
still smoking, showed where the refuse of the 
great camp had been burned, and the acres of 
camping ground, empty of tents and soldiers and 
waggons, were a void as sensible to the eye as 
though a tooth had been drawn from the face of 
nature. Two days before, an advance camp had 
been formed beyond Chieveley by the Fusilier 
Brigade (under General Barton) and a few guns, 
and the movement of December 14th brought 
it about that the whole column lay on those dry 
downs which slope to the Tugela river. 

147 



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148 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

On Wednesday and Thursday, the naval guns in 
their new position bombarded the hills held by the 
Boers near Colenso. The lyddite shells burst long 
aching gaps in the Boer trenches, but no suspicion 
of answer came from the enemy. The Boers 
had contrived a conspiracy of invisibility ; I myself 
did not see more than thirty move away from 
the trenches, and men began to say that the 
few tents that could be seen were false camps, that 
the Boers were behind the hills, or indeed had 
retired altogether, and that we should cross the 
river without opposition. 

Before daylight on Friday, December 15th, I 
woke to the sound of men and horses tramping 
and the cries of the native drivers to their mules. 
There was not a spark of light in the sky till half 
the mounted brigade had wound past my tent in a 
walking column ; here and there a pipe or 
cigarette glowed in the column ; the men were 
silent, or if they spoke rallied one another on the 
expectations of the day ; the horses, in the grasp 
of the prevalent sickness, threw their heads down 
from time to time and coughed. But, take it for 
all in all, the camp was filled with a steady, con- 
tinuous, sweeping noise which resembled silence. 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 149 

This was the morning of a battle. Look where 
you would, you were conscious darkly that the 
field moved before your eyes ; troops in masses, 
still too vague for recognition, coiled and uncoiled 
till the light fell on an army that had resolved 
itself into its disposition. The dust from the arid 
downs floated up in an ethereal powder, and the 
column at my tent door passed through it like 
men wading through a white level tide which 
reached the middle of men and the bellies of 
horses. 

I cannot help remembering an incident which 
happened as that column wound past my tent, 
perhaps because it was one of these incidents 
which are trifling enough to seize the mind 
peremptorily on grand occasion?. A Zulu driver 
lashed out with his long whip at his mules, and 
instantly let drop from his left hand, with a curious 
native cry of despair, that cherished Kaffir instru- 
ment, a concertina. The moving column moved 
on ; " nor all the piety nor wit " of the Zulu could 
lure it back to recover the concertina. But the 
leader of the mounted company coming behind 
noticed the instrument lying on the ground. 
" Mind that concertina ! " he shouted. " Pass the 



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ISO THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

word!" He pulled his horse aside, the word was 
passed, a line of horses in the middle of the com- 
pany swerved, the forest of legs passed, and, 
behold, the concertina lay untouched. The next 
company leader threw up his hand like a driver in 
the Strand. " Look out ; mind the concertina ! ** 
" Mind the wind-jammer," said one man to another 
in tones (as they seemed) of deep personal resent- 
ment if a rider let his horse's hoofs go dangerously 
near the precious thing. And thus all the rest of 
the brigade passed, hurrying on to use all the 
latest and most civilised means for killing men and 
destroying property, and minding the concertina 
tenderly as they went ; so that when all the 
dancing sea of l^s had passed over it the con- 
certina still lay unscratched on the ground, and I 
picked it up and took it into my tent 

Daylight revealed the army, disposed and 
beautifully ordered, at the top of the plain which 
falls gently to the Tugela. Beyond the river the 
hills, as we were the closer, looked the more 
desperate to take — ridge upon ridge, top upon top, 
each one looking over the head of the one in front 
of It — simply desperate ! Try to imagine the 
battlefield. At the end of the plain, where it fell 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 151 

away and disappeared, the high-banked river ran 
across our front, roughly, in a straight line, and 
where the river ran was the foot of the hills. 
Down the plain about the middle, but rather to the 
east, ran the railway. East of the railway is a 
great hill, near the river but on this side, called 
Hlangwana Mountain ; and the plain is edged 
with a ridge which droops away southward like a 
tail from the mountain. The railway dives 
straight down the plain to its bridge, or to the 
place where the bridge used to be before the Boers 
blew it up, near Colenso ; and near the railway 
bridge was the footbridge, charged with explosives 
no doubt, but still whole on the day of the battle. 
On the other side of the river is a cluster of red- 
brown ridges behind the village, the smallest and 
nearest to the river bearing on its end Fort Wylie. 
All these ridges were entrenched, the trenches 
almost replicas, you might say, of the ridges them- 
selves, trench coming upon trench till the sides of 
the ridges were potato fields for furrows. Behind 
this little but important cluster kopjes rise pro- 
gressively in height and multiply in complexity 
(some conical, some flat-topped) till they culminate 
in long flat-backboned Umbulwana, which frowns 



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152 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

above invisible Ladysmith. West of the Fort 
Wylie cluster of ridges, and only a little further 
back from the river, is a chain of fairly high hills 
which possess their own sky-line, and of these the 
most prominent in feature is Grobler's Kloof Hill. 
Below Grobler's the river makes a loop, of which 
the bunt, as it were, is to the north; the plain 
within the loop was therefore on the British or 
south side of the river, and the troops who 
marched into the bunt of the loop were exposed to 
fire from three directions. On our side of the 
river there was one billow of ground which alone 
threatened to rob the plain of its title. On the 
southern end of this high ground the naval battery 
was placed, and the rest of the billow swelled 
dow^n to the river so as to make the left wing of 
our army invisible from the right. So much for 
the scene of action. 

The army was drawn up like this. Lord 
Dundonald with the Mounted Brigade was on 
the right, a long way on the east side of the rail- 
way, with the 7th Battery R.A. supporting him ; 
next came General Barton's Fusilier Brigade, also 
on the far side of the railway ; next the 14th and 
66th Batteries R.A. and six naval guns, again on 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 153 

the far side of the railway ; next General Hildyard's 
Brigade, which when it advanced bisected itself 
with the railway ; next the battery of naval guns, 
on the billow of ground ; next General Lyttelton's 
Brigade, where the billow sloped to the left ; next 
the 64th and 73rd Batteries R.A. ; next, on the 
flat ground, General Hart's Brigade ; and, finally, 
on the extreme left, a little cavalry — the Royals 
and the 13th Hussars. 

" I force the passage of the Tugela to-morrow," 
Sir Francis Clery had said in his orders the night 
before ; the operations of Friday, December 15th, 
were therefore plainly intended to be an attack, 
and not a reconnaissance in force. It is probable 
that very early in the day, when Sir Redvers 
BuUer — remember that Sir Redvers Buller was 
present and in command, but officially he had 
superseded no one — when Sir Redvers Buller, I 
say, found that the Boers displayed no weak point 
in their ineffably strong hills, he might have 
changed the plan into a reconnaissance in force, 
and, having simply drawn the enemy's fire at 
last and counted their guns, might have fallen 
back with comparatively little loss. But he was 
prevented from doing this almost entirely by the 



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154 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

tragic pickle into which the 14th and 66th Batteries 
fell. This tragedy was the pivot on which the 
battle turned, and I must explain it fully 
later. 

Attack, then, there was to be, and the plan of 
attack as given in the orders was this. General 
Hart was to cross the Tugela at Bridle Drift, at 
the top of the loop I have described, and, having 
crossed, was to march along the north bank to the 
iron footbridge. General Hildyard was to make 
straight for the bridge and cross it General 
L3^elton was to support these two brigades. 
General Barton was to help Lord Dundonald in 
the attack on Hlangwana Mountain, on this side 
of the river. The whole scheme was a frontal 
attack without disguise. Why was this plan 
made? Well, first, any other plan would have 
been almost equally difficult, for the Boers held 
the hills all along the line, and had fortified the 
few drifts where a turning movement might be 
made; secondly, the Generals believed, on evidence 
that there was every reason to think trustworthy, 
that the hills across the river were rather weakly 
held ; and, thirdly, that belief was supported by 
the fact that for two days there had been no 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 155 

answer, or trace of answer, to the heavy firing of 
our naval guns.* 

I found the infantry sitting in rows in the order 
of advance — dotted yellow rows on yellow ground, 
each man the appointed distance from his neigh- 
bour, and each row the appointed distance from 
the next. The first row was far down the plain, 
a set of mere pin-heads ; nearer the rows were like 
vegetables turned out of a hoed furrow and laid 
along the ground ; and close about me they were 
full-sized men, chaffing and smoking and propping 
themselves up on their elbows to inquire when the 
" fun " was going to begin. 

The fun began in earnest a few minutes before 
six o'clock; lyddite, lyddite, lyddite was poured 
from the Naval Battery on to the Boer ridges — 
first the tremendous crash of the 40-pounder, then 
the rise high into the air of the red-brown dust, 
ploughed up by the tail of the gun at the frantic 
recoil ; the cry of the shell through the air ; the 
upheaval of smoke and earth and dust, like the 
explosion of a submarine mine, where the shell 
burst on the brown hills ; the gasped, excited 
compliments to the gunner; the report of the 
explosion flung back to you, followed by the long 
* See note at end of Chapter. 



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156 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

rolling reverberation given up by the hills ; the 
shorter, more snappy crash of the i2-pounders, 
the pall of dust and smoke (red and grey) droop- 
ing over the ridges ; Fort Wylie knocked askew, 
and showing only now and again, as through a 
cloud bank, the wreaths of shrapnel smoke in the 
air at a higher level ; the deafness and buzzing in 
your ears — these are things that clamp your soul 
and will be the visions afterwards of wakeful nights. 

The pin-heads of infantry stood up and advanced 
further down the plain, and the rows behind 
them also stood up and advanced into the places 
which just before had been occupied by the 
pin-heads. All the time the crash and scream 
of the bombardment continued, and never so much 
as a single shell or a puif of rifle smoke came from 
the Boers. Had they thought it worth while to 
hold the hills against this ransacking, awful bom- 
bardment? Was not our advance, after all, to be 
an Aldershot field-day ? On our left one might, 
until now, have supposed so. 

Ah 1 what was that crackling and rattling away 
down on our left ? Was it possible that the close- 
quarter fighting was beginning already? The 
gunners seemed barely to have begun their 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 157 

deadly work, and yet this new sound, swelling into 
a steady continuity, could mean only one thing. 
General Hart had, indeed, marched his men down 
to within a few hundred yards of the river in 
quarter-column formation, and there the main 
body of them halted, offering a solid tai^et to 
the Boer artillery. Hart had brought his brigade 
into action much sooner than any one had ex- 
pected and before the artillery had prepared the 
way for their advance with shell fire. And we 
learned later that the advance had been mis- 
directed as well as mistimed ; the brigade struck 
the river not at Bridle Drift, as had been intended, 
but at another point altc^ether. 

The Dublin Fusiliers, however, who were the 
first line and were to hold the river bank while the 
crossing was made at Bridle Drift, opened into 
extended order, and marched for the place where 
the river makes a loop. Then suddenly, and for 
the first time, a flash on the opposite hills — ^not 
the flash of a shell bursting but of a Boer gun — 
phew-w-w-w-w, whistling and throbbing came the 
projectile, and dump, down among the extended 
lines. Whoever those artillerists were, Germans 
or not, they knew how to train a gun. 



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158 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

And now all along the Boer lines the guns were 
licking out their vicious little adders' tongues of 
fire. So there were guns, after all — ten, as far as 
I could make out — and the air on our side of 
the river was whistling and throbbing, and some- 
times was filled with the horrible whine of 
bursting shrapnel, all of which are very different 
sounds from the cry of a shell which is departing 
from you. What consummate coolness and judg- 
ment that defending party had, to lie quiet for 
two days and part of a morning under lyddite, 
and to open now — ^now ! Well, in spite of ex- 
perience and statistics, one can never remember 
(while the thunder of artillery is in one's ears) 
how strangely small is the number of casualties 
from shell-fire ; I, at least, could hardly imagine a 
Boer gunner standing steadily to his gun under 
that bombardment 

The Dublins disappeared down on to the plain 
in the loop of the river, and I must continue my 
narrative from the evidence of others, as they were 
hidden from me by the billow of ground on the 
large plain. I was watching the advance in the 
middle. 

Hart's brigade had begun the morning with a 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 159 

kind of brigade drill, and the spirit of it clung to 
them. Behind the Dublins came the Connaught 
Rangers in quarter columns massed, and gne Boer 
shell after another was dropped on to the excellent 
target before the unfortunate fellows were dispersed. 
As for the Dublins, conspicuous and entirely 
unsheltered, like every one else on this unequal day, 
they were fired on from three directions — musketry 
on either side, and a couple of guns as well as 
musketry on their front Unfortunate and gallant 
regiment; it was for this that the diminished 
battalion had just been brought up to fighting 
strength, to lose 216 men ! The Connaughts lost 
only less severely, a regiment, like the Dublins, as 
hard to restrain in the field as in the camp. 

On came the Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Border 
Regiment to the support of both, and the 64th and 
73rd Batteries were firing away in their rear, but 
nothing could save them from the flanking fires and 
the guns in front, which had fairly gripped their 
position. At last the river bank was reached — 
reached by those who were left Where was the 
ford ? Where were the Boers ? Never mind the 
ford — the Boers, as was discovered later, had 
dammed the river, and the ford no longer 



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i6o THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

existed; some plunged into the deep water, 
nearly 170 rounds of cartridges were on their 
bodies, barbed wire beneath the water may or 
may not have dragged them down — I cannot 
entirely trust the evidence — but most of them 
drowned like dogs with weights tied to them. A 
few reached the other bank. Where was the Boer 
fire coming from now? What a conspiracy of 
invisibility, whether the enemy were passive or 
active ! 

A man of the Dublins — ^he had been one of 
the first up the hill at Talana, and his was a 
name cherished for bravery even among the 
Dublins — was looking after some wounded com- 
rades on the river bank. Finding himself alone, he 
thought only of getting back to his regiment — was 
not that the firing line? — and, like a good fellow, 
he put his helmet on the back of his head and, as 
the soldier sa}^, " legged it." He was seen running 
back, and was arrested when he reached his lines — 
to be tried for cowardice. Ah, but the thing was 
hopeless; more ammunition was needed even 
before the retirement set in ; two natives in charge 
of it turned to run away at the supreme moment, 
and a private of the Dublins shot them dead. The 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO i6i 

need to retire was none the less ; back came the 
lines, not less conspicuous in retreat than in 
advance, with the shrapnel and bullets about their 
ears from the invisible enemy to the last syllable of 
the retirement 

Some of those who had crossed the river never 
heard of the retirement and were made prisoners. 
The Colonel of the Inniskillings fell in with some 
Boers on the other side. They do not appear 
to have offered to take him, though he was 
unwounded and surrounded. "Stop your men 
firing," one of them said in effect " How can I do 
that ?" the Colonel is said to have asked "Well, 
undertake to do it and Til walk away," said the 
Boer, as I have it ; and with that he and his men 
did walk away. 

There were other similar cases. Barton, of 
the Connaughts, for example, went twice to the 
river to bring water for the wounded after the 
retirement had begun. At the second visit he 
met some Boers, and he was unarmed. " Are you 
a combatant ? " they asked. " I was^' said he. 
And then, after a conversation, he suddenly realised 
that he was alone and free, but — strange difference 
and incredible discomfiture ! — committed somehow 
M 



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i62 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

by the conversation ; in short, on his parole not to 
fight against the Boers again in this whole cam- 
paign ! To save his honour among his friends by 
dishonour would have been easy to a less scrupulous 
man. He preserved his honour by risking it He 
confessed that he was on his word. And so one 
who is known as a keen soldier goes to the rear 
with a little incident in his life that approaches the 
mysterious, that happened almost inexplicably to 
himself, an incident that occupied but a few 
moments in the bewildering hours of a battle,, and 
yet is irrevocable. A captain in the Dublins 
argued with another party of Boers and afterwards 
came back to our lines. Another singular experi- 
ence was that which befell Colonel Bullock, of the 
Devons. He, with about forty of his men, was cut 
off by the Boers among some trees near the river. 
When called upon to surrender he refused ; and 
some of his men fired, killing three Boers. The 
Boers certainly behaved with great restraint They 
merely advanced and repeated their demand. 
And when Colonel Bullock refused again, a Boer 
simply clubbed him over the head with the butt- 
end of a rifle. When Bullock fell the whole party 
were made prisoners. Curious fellows these Boers ! 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 163 

Enough has been said of the fight on the left 
Our guns had come into action a little too late, if 
they would have made any difference in fighting an 
invisible enemy. Hart was repulsed. He had lost 
523 men. 

It would be accurate to say that three battles 
were going on at once. While General Hart was 
fighting on the left, General Hildyard pressed 
forward to the bridge in the middle, and General 
Barton and the Mounted Brigade under Lord 
Dundonald had their own fight against Hlangwana 
Mountain, far away on the other side of the rail- 
way. The story of the middle is the story of the 
14th and 66th Batteries R.A. and six naval guns. 

Colonel Long, as I know, for I travelled from 
England with him, had a theory, which was this — 
that you must get near to the enemy with your 
guns. " The only way," he used to say, " to smash 
those beggars is to rush in at *em." I was not at 
Omdurman, where he commanded the artillery, but 
I know that at Colenso he had every opportunity 
to employ his theory. He chose to go with the 
14th and 66th Batteries, perhaps because on the 
east side of the railway he had the best opportunity 
of getting near the enemy. A long way down the 



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i64 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

plain he halted and began to fire at Fort Wylie ; 
but he was not near enough to fulfil the theory, 
and so Colonel Hunt, who commanded these two 
batteries, was ordered to limber up, and on the 
guns went Colonel Long went with them. This 
time they halted about five hundred yards from 
a shelter trench on the south side of the river. 

Probably the trench was not visible to the batteries, 
but I could see it easily from my position below 
the naval battery. This was filled with Boers; 
beyond the trench was a hedge of trees, also filled 
with Boers; and beyond that the river banks — 
those also filled with Boers. Colonel Long was 
still unlimbering in his new position when — bang ! 
— it was like the signal for a firework display to 
b^n — ^a shell came down among the guns, and on 
the signal the air was instantly whipping and sing- 
ing with bullets all round the gunners. Men and 
horses fell down just where they stood ; the shells 
were nothing, but the air and ground were furious 
with bullets. 

British artillery has never been in a hotter 
place; if there can be such a thing as an 
ambuscade in the middle of a pitched battle, these 
batteries had run into one. For nearly half an hour 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 165 

the guns were served by men and officers, who 
seemed to melt down into the ground under some 
deadly sirocco, and at the end of the half-hour there 
was silence there — at least on our part ; nearly 
every officer was wounded, the horses lay round 
dead in heaps. Behind the guns there was a donga, 
and three hundred yards behind that another 
donga. Most of the naval guns were to the right 
of the second donga, commanded by Lieutenant 
Ogilvy, of the Terrible. He himself has told me 
how the bullets cut right through horses and 
ammunition waggons; they were bullets at close 
quarters, in the full strength of life, bullets that 
splashed and drummed and spattered on the guns 
and limbers. " Last night it rained rather heavily," 
he said in talking to me, " and the first few heavy 
drops on my tent — by gad ! I had the whole scene 
over again. It was that exactly." One of the 
naval twelve-pounders upset in the donga, but the 
loss among the navy men was astonishingly small. 
Remember, however, that the naval gunner studs 
his guns about irregularly, wherever he sees good 
positions, and holds in contempt the plan of the 
army gunner, who puts his guns in a beautiful 
symmetrical line, the guns at regular intervals, and 
all close together. 



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i66 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

When the general retirement was ordered, one 
of these hearty naval souls thought, on reflection, 
that retirement was not for him. He slipped 
away, picked up a rifle, and filled his pouches with 
ammunition. He trudged, along towards the river, 
and at last selected a spot which satisfied his 
modest requirements — a little comfort and reason- 
able shelter. His officer did not see him again 
until nightfall, when he came into camp tired, hot, 
very footsore, hungry, and thirsty. He had fired 
away all his pouches of ammunition and then had 
trudged home alone, long after the retirement was 
over. " I haven't had such a good day," he said 
with simple feeling, as he dropped worn out to the 
ground, " not for a very long while." 

Colonel Long, shot through the liver. Colonel 
Hunt, also wounded, and their officers, nearly all 
wounded, had fallen back to the donga behind 
their guns. The guns stood alone, and seemed to 
us all to be abandoned. Colonel Long apparently 
had no such thought. It seems inevitable that he 
should receive the greater part of the blame for the 
result of the battle ; it will be said that he precipi- 
tated and protracted the fight and prevented it 
from being turned, at worst, into a costly reconnais- 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 167 

sance. It is just, therefore, that his own statement 
should be considered. No one, I imagine, will 
argue that the theory of getting near enough was 
proved in this case to be anything but a gloomy 
failure. Colonel Long himself allows that. But 
listen to the rest. He says that when he fell back 
to the donga he did so because he was ordered ; 
that he retired to wait for reinforcements and 
ammunition, expecting them to come every 
moment; that his retirement was plainly not a 
panic, because all the wounded were brought care- 
fully to the donga ; that he expected the main 
advance on the Tugela to overtake him any 
moment, when he would be able to re-man his 
guns, and that was the reason why he left them 
standing ready for use with their breech-blocks 
still in them. Poor Long lay in the donga for 
hours. " Don't hurry about me," he kept saying ; 
"there are lots worse." He had to wait, in any 
case, for there was no doctor in the donga. At 
last Captain Herbert brought Sir Francis Clery's 
staff doctor, who came readily under the heavy 
fire and helped the wounded. His was only one 
instance that day of the eager devotion of doctors. 
An3^vhere among the shell fire you could see 



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i68 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

them kneeling and performing little quick opera- 
tions that required deftness and steadiness of hand, 
and I question if there is in this world a more 
exquisite combination of tenderness and courage 
than in the doctor who does his bare duty on the 
battlefield. 

On November isth Colonel Long was in com- 
mand at Estcourt, and was held responsible for the 
disaster to the armoured train. I believe he had 
ordered the officer commanding the train not to go 
beyond Frere (it was just beyond Frere that the 
accident happened); but he had given the order 
verbally, not in writing, for want of time, and so he 
accepted the responsibility. On the same day of 
the next month he is held responsible for half the 
trouble at Colenso. He may be responsible, but 
he is a good soldier and a gentleman if ever there 
was one. 

I must leave Colonel Long and return to 
the guns standing there and inviting rescue. 
General Hildyard's infantry advanced to the sup- 
port of the unhappy guns which were unable to 
support them — a strange but necessary inversion. 
I shall never forget the advance of the Devons and 
the Queen's and the Scots Fusiliers (who had 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 169 

bored across the plain diagonally from Barton's 
Brigade) over the plain on the right of the railway 
to the river. Line after line suddenly rose up and 
ran forward ; some reached a shelter trench (a 
better trench than our engineers could build, as 
everybody swears), and dropped into it, others 
passed on beyond that and disappeared over the 
steep edge of the river. The shells were bursting 
in the four comers of the advance, but the infantry- 
men do not look to the right or to the left ; they 
simply do not mind them ; they walk straight 
through the dust of them at the same pace, with 
eyes to the front. You never saw such a wonderful 
thing in your life. Here and there you could 
clearly see a man drop, and the line rolled on 
without him, and the next straight as a ruler, like 
the one before it and the one behind it, passed 
over him too and was gone like a wave, leaving, as 
is the way of waves, something in its track. I 
remember watching the smoke and dust from one 
shell drift slowly away, and when it was gone 
three men were on the ground. One rose up and 
walked away. The second rose up and sat down 
carefully on a rock ; then he got up from that and 
put his hands on his hips, and leaned forward as 



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I70 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

though examining something in the grass, and 
then slowly toppled forward ; two bearers and a 
doctor were standing over him five minutes after- 
wards. And the third man lay on the ground quite 
still, and I do not think he ever moved again. 

Now what was to happen to those twelve guns 
still standing there without their friends ? A litter 
of abandoned things was about them, and horses 
galloped near in circles in a sort of playful frenzy 
which puzzled me till I found that they were all 
riderless and were dragging their dead still har- 
nessed to them. The infantry had now clashed 
with the Boer riflemen all along the line of three 
miles and more, and the rattle was a memorable 
confusion of sounds like the rolling of kettledrums 
and the clapping of hands all brought up to a far 
higher power. Sometimes the din dwindled almost 
to silence — ^you might have thought the battle over 
— and then as a new line of our infantry appeared 
and menaced the line of the river the noise would 
rise again from a few startled pops through a 
crescendo of crackling to a sweeping babel of 
sound. 

It was during this advance of the Devons and 
the Queen's that the series of brilliant attempts 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 171 

to rescue the guns began. A little earlier — about 
ten o'clock — Sir Redvers Buller had left the position 
he had appointed for himself at the naval battery 
— the situation in the centre was too serious for a 
man of Buller's spirit to stay away from it now — 
and had ridden off towards the guns with all his 
staff and the escort of the Natal Police. " Out of 
this, please," he said — he was down among the 
naval twelve-pounders behind Long's guns now. 
The Boers had perhaps recognised the staff; the 
whistling in the air trebled. 

" You oughtn't to be here, sir," gasped Ogilvy. 

" I'm all right, my boy," said the General. 

The staff lingered about the place ; Sir Redvers 
Buller was eating sandwiches, and from the scat- 
tered groups of men emerged one of the most gallant 
trios that ever tried to win the Victoria Cross. 
Off the three went for the guns — I saw them go — 
Schofield, Sir Redvers Buller's A.D.C. ; Congreve, 
of the Rifle Brigade, who had been quietly giving 
me notes out of his pocket-book an hour before 
up near the naval battery ; and young Roberts 
(Lord Roberts' son), of Sir Francis Clery's staflT. 

Roberts was looking over his shoulder at Scho- 
field, laughing and working his stick with a circular 



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172 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

motion, like a jockey, to encourage his horse ; he was 
in the full exhilaration, that is to say, of a man 
riding to hounds, when his first bullet found its 
billet Poor Freddy Roberts! he was shot three 
times, and fell mortally wounded. He died on 
Sunday night, to every one's grief. He just faded 
gently away with a notoriously painful wound which 
gave him marvellously little pain, and his last 
moments would have been made golden to him 
if he had known that he had been granted a V.C. 
Like father, like son — but the son never knew it. 
The message reached Cape Town in time, but there 
it was delayed, and when it arrived at Chieveley, 
Roberts lay in another bed. 

Roberts, as I have said, was shot three times 
and fell wounded mortally. Congreve was shot 
twice through the clothes, and his body was still 
untouched ; then his riding-cane went, shot in 
halves as he held it in his hand, and finally he got 
one in the leg, and he too fell. Only Schofield 
remained — Schofield and the splendid fellows who 
were left on the horses ; and he, with those men 
and such horses as were still alive, brought back 
two guns. Still ten guns out of the two batteries 
remained. Who would bring them in ? 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 173 

The officer commanding the 7th Battery, near 
Hlang^ana Mountain, sent off Reid, his senior 
captain, with a team of waggon horses and riders, 
to emulate the trio. Nearly every horse was shot. 
Reid returned to his own battery with a bullet in 
his thigh, and stayed there, covering the retreat of 
the mounted brigade, till half-past three in the 
afternoon. Then Lord Dundonald ordered him 
home, since advice to that effect had been useless. 
It had to be explained to Reid afterwards — what 
he had done. "Bosh!" he said. "It was the 
drivers." 

Schofield was like Reid ; the drivers, if you 
believed him, had done it all. It was not true, 
and yet what can be finer than to remember and 
admit that the basis of all individual distinction is 
the jeopardies and sacrifices of others ; to remem- 
ber that officers make themselves famous always 
a little by proxy. So long as our officers do 
remember and confess it, we need not fear that 
they live in an inhuman relationship with their 
men. None of Schofield's six drivers was hit, but 
three of the horses were, and yet they managed to 
stand up and pull the guns. If one horse had 
fallen the whole game would have been up — not a 



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174 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

gun of the two batteries could have been won back 
for us. " I can't believe it even now," Schofield 
told me afterwards, " that we got through so well." 
And then he went on, "Til show you how cool 
those drivers were. When I was hooking on one 
of the guns one of the drivers said, * Elevate the 
muzzle, sir* — that's a precaution for galloping in 
rough country. But I shouldn't have thought of 
it — not just then. Pretty cool, wasn't it?" 

It was all no good ; a general retirement was 
ordered, ten guns were left on the field, and it 
may be true that the Boers rolled them into the 
river. 

Sir Redvers BuUer and his staff came by me 
on their return. The General climbed down 
limply and wearily from his horse like an old, old 
man. I thought he was wounded with vexation ; 
I did not know then that he was wounded — 
though slightly — ^with a bullet, which had passed 
round his ribs. The horse of Lord Gerard, one of 
his A.D.C.'s, had been shot in the neck ; Captain 
Hughes, the doctor of his staff, had been killed — 
half blown to pieces — by a shell ; one of the Natal 
Police (the General's escort) had had his horse 
grazed in the fetlock, in the belly, and. in the 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 175 

mouth, and two bullets had passed through his 
holsters. This is the sort of fire the General had 
been under, eating sandwiches. 

Meanwhile the naval gunners had been bringing 
their twelve-pounders away. All their native drivers 
had fled, and the sailors fell to with their in- 
vincible jollity to man the bullock teams, kicking 
the animals with lusty good-will in the ribs to put 
them right, using with fervour the few Kaffir words 
they had among them. Twenty-eight oxen were 
lost, but the guns were all brought away. The 
sailors were pursued by their old friends the shells 
that had been playing on them all the morning ; 
they recogfnised them all with kindly greeting — 
the three shells, for instance, that came regularly 
in a volley from the Vickers-Maxim, with the 
" pom-pom-pom " voice, like the sound of a post- 
man rapping on the door of an empty house, shells 
of such low velocity that the sailors had plenty of 
time to take cover after they had heard the report 
of the gun ; then the s^ment shell, that moved so 
slowly and visibly in the air before it burst that 
they used to run out from behind the guns to field 
it like a cricket ball ; and, lastly, the shell with a 
bad " driving-band," that twittered with a peculiar 



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176 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

cadence through the air and was known as the 
canary-bird. 

Of the fight on the right I need say little. The 
mounted brigade made a frontal attack on Hlang- 
wana. The Boers were, as usual, invisible. The 
brigade had Thomeycroft's Mounted Infantry on 
the right, the composite regiment in the middle 
and the South African Light Horse on the left. 
An enfilading fire from both sides of a gully up 
which the brigade was advancing opened suddenly ; 
the brigade retired — ^was ordered to retire, as Lord 
Dundonald explains, who wished to remain and 
believes he could have taken the hill — ^and suffered 
heavily in the brief retirement. The enfilading fire 
drew another fire, which otherwise would doubtless 
have been reserved, from another party of Boers at 
the head of the gully. 

When the retirement was nearly completed, 
an odd, inexplicable figure lingered about the 
battlefield. The time was neutral; we had left 
the field, but for a few stragglers ; the Boers 
had not yet come on to it; only the aasvogels 
gathered in numbers, wheeling overhead with an 
eye on the horrid banquet. To the coarse or 
unseeing eye the figure might have been that of 



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THE BATTLE OP COLENSO 177 

a Dutchman or a German — the private soldier 
who saw it took it for that ; only the finer, S)an- 
pathetic eye could see in it, through all the 
suspicious ways, through the wildness and evasive- 
ness, unmistakable remnants of the British officer. 
He was riding an artillery horse, and his saddle- 
bags were filled with booty of the field. But such 
booty 1 Paltry little detached pieces of harness 
and artillery-horse furniture. He was brought 
into camp as a Dutch prisoner, and there an 
officer recognised him — an old comrade, an old 
war horse, who had returned to the battle. And 
the explanation? "Oh, sunstroke in India, or 
something of that sort, you know." That was all. 
And then the old fellow was sent gently to the 
rear. 

Prince Christian Victor was under fire, and very 
heavy fire too, with Sir Redvers Buller during the 
day. Although it was his first experience of the 
kind he was remarkable for his coolness. Indeed 
he seemed to enjoy it 

At noon all was practically over ; our loss in 
killed, wounded, and missing was 1,147. Never 
had been such an extraordinary sight — an enemy 
so conspicuous on the one side against an invisible 

N 



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178 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

foe on the other. I had had just one glimpse of 
the Boers, and that had revealed their wonderful 
mobility ; it was a glimpse of perhaps fifty men 
galloping hard across a short, low neck at the back 
of two ridges, men who had come from their right 
after General Hart's repulse to reinforce their 
middle and left, and passed round at the back ; 
and unless one happened to glance at that neck, 
as I did, none would have known anything of the 
movement. Of course the Boers had the position 
— ^the only position — in the fight; it is doubtful 
whether such a place as that across the Tugela is 
pregfnable when held with modern weapons. Yet 
our advance was magnificent ; Sir Redvers Buller 
said he had never seen a finer. This must be said 
all the same — the skill with which the Boers had 
laid out their trenches and chosen positions for 
their guns, and the coolness and judgment with 
which they sat tight under artillery fire and 
reserved their fire till precisely the right moment, 
makes their defence of the Tugela one of the 
most notable of modern times ; a military feat 
comparable with the brilliant raid which they 
made into the heart of Natal taking their trans- 
port with them, risking and winning an engage- 



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THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 179 

ment at Brynbella Hill and returning north of the 
Tugela in safety. The good soldier will not 
depreciate these achievements, but will say that 
the people to whose credit they stand are worth 
beating. 

The wounded came in on stretchers in converg- 
ing lines from our left, middle, and right, and 
were received by the ambulance train on the rail- 
way — men with waxen grey faces and clotted 
bandages swathed about them ; men who smiled 
at their friends and instantly changed the smile 
for a gripping spasm ; men who were clinched 
between life and death ; men who had died on the 
way and were now carried hurriedly and jerkily, 
since it no longer mattered ; men who bore a slight 
pain contentedly because they were glad that they 
would be tucked away safely in a hospital for the 
rest of the campaign ; men of a different constitu- 
tion who took it ill that so slight a pain should 
cause them so great an incapacity ; men who 
were mere limp, covered-up bundles, carried on 
stretchers through which something dark oozed 
and dropped. Why dwell on these details of a 
"specimen day"? The afternoon had fallen to 
evening before the last naval gun boomed out 



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i8o THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

a declaration that the British army would come 
and come again. 

As for General Buller, he gained laurels from 
his defeat that are not always won by victorious 
generals. He sacrificed, or let me say, rather, he 
jeopardised, his own reputation in order to avert 
an irreparable sacrifice of his army. A weaker 
man, a less heroic soldier, would have carried the 
position with an appalling loss of life. BuUer's 
decision to retire was a proof of his bravery and 
good generalship. 

Note. — Since writing this I have been assured that 
General Buller was not ignorant of the Boer strength. 
But he came to the conclusion that to cross the Tugela 
at any other point would be equally difficult 



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COMMANDANT-CENERAI. JOUI'ERT 



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CHAPTER IX 

WAITING AGAIN : WITH A CAMP INTERLUDE 

Frere Camp, Thursday, January 4/*, 1900. 
" TV ^ AY we dress up, sir? " It was the child- 

J-Vl like sailors who asked the innocent 
question on Christinas Day. 

"What do you want to dress up as?" asked 
the naval officer. 

" Please, sir, as John Bull, and if you don't 
mind, sir, as President Kroojer, sir, and might 
we 'ave a gun carriage, sir?" 

"What for?" 

"To take *em round, sir." 

The eloquent, smooth spokesman had said, and 
only the decision remained to be taken. 

" Well, if you won't insult the old gentleman," 
said the naval officer, meaning Mr. Kruger. 

" Very good, sir," said the bland and chuckling 

sailors. 

181 



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i82 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

The naval officer had said words which were 
his bare duty and had been indulgent at the same 
time, as was right and natural on Christmas Day ; 
and forthwith the figure of Mr. Kruger was 
destined to the honest comments of Jack and 
Tommy. John Bull wore a red face and a 
Union Jack, which covered a form of appropriate 
rotundity, and President "Kroojer" was more 
elaborately and tenderly equipped with a beard 
of unravelled rope, a stove-pipe hat made out of 
a tin cylinder, a black coat, a white flag, and 
a tattered umbrella, labelled, "The Effects of 
Lyddite." The spirit of fraternity with which 
the figures on the carriage treated each other 
after all secured the fulfilment of the officer's 
conditions. 

All that day and the next the camp had the 
appearance and the spirit of a fair ; men were 
throwing stones for prizes at bottles hung in rows ; 
running foot-races in their stocking-feet ; wrestling 
on horseback stripped to the waist ; cock-fighting ; 
teams of soldiers were pulling tugs-of-war with 
sailors, and being beaten by them; sailors were 
mounted precariously on horses and mules, and 
were so pleased at finding themselves on some- 



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WAITING AGAIN 183 

thing four-footed that they rode their animals 
without relaxation all day, and in the races 
cheerfully and invariably came in last; officers 
scampered across a rock-strewn and break-neck 
country in point-to-points ; there were trotting 
races in which everybody cantered and the judge 
tore his hair ; the air was filled with the fierce 
and peremptory shouts of the officers who were 
managing the soldiers' playtime — " B Company to 
pull now ! B Company, here ! B Company, will 
you came here at once ! B COMPANY ! " 

" Please, sir, we've pulled three times run- 
ning." 

" Well, you'll have to pull again if you want to 
win," and at this point B Company obediently 
lays hold of the rope. 

All the time the sun blazed on us, and the thick, 
floating atmosphere of dust sanded our clothes and 
hair, gritted our teeth, and choked our throats ; and 
lastly, in the evenings there were concerts round 
bright fires, and a comic singer might have been 
heard banging out imitations of the " pom-pom " 
or Boer Vickers-Maxim gun on a piano brought 
from a looted farmhouse : " What's that ? " he 
demanded when he had made the imitation, and 



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i84 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

some of the men, to show that they recognised 
the wonderfully exact sound, slid down and ducked 
their heads behind their seats. 

Only a few days before Sir Redvers Buller had 
suffered a reverse — Sir Redvers Buller for whom 
we had not admitted to ourselves the possibility 
of failure. And we were now in full sight of the 
hills where we had been checked, indeed within 
range of some of the guns which had helped to 
send us back to our camp ; yet we were not sad. 
After what I have said you will see that the 
camp was jovial ; — can it really be true that 
reverses are an incentive to glorious retrievement ? 
Of course all the camp was very sorry for the 
wounded men — the dead after all had appeared 
to be happy enough — but then this sorrow had 
lasted no longer or gone no deeper than sorrows 
commonly do in war-time. The fact is, the camp 
was in great spirits, triumphantly employing the 
new standard of emotions which war imposes. 
Whilst our fellow-countrymen in England were 
swallowed up at this time in the sublime emotions 
of pity and fear, we, with an unexpected reverse 
behind us, with the prospect (according to our 
belief) of the bloodiest battle of the campaign 



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WAITING AGAIN 185 

before us, were just as I have described. A perfect 
study, you may say, in frames of mind. 

After New Year's day the camp eased oflF from 
the riotous amusements of the fair to the sober 
daily sports of Englishmen. Tommy, being in 
a foreign land, has lost the spirit of convention 
which is part of his native climate. The world 
and the seasons are upside down, and he may 
just as well disregard things managed in so un- 
usual a manner. Let us call it winter — ^January 
ought to be winter anyhow — and play football ! 
I cannot discover that Tommy makes any dis- 
crimination between the days which he considers 
suitable for football and those which he considers 
suitable for cricket, unless it be that he plays 
football on the hottest days and cricket on the 
coolest But then a man can play ducks and 
drakes with himself in this climate. The beautiful 
cool nights restore one. What does it matter 
what you do in the day, when the night, cool 
from sunset till sunrise, and even cold in the 
strange grey early hours, picks you up again, 
and turns you out as fresh as a lark? Why, a 
man can do anything here! You may have the 
heat of a furnace in the day, but it is not the 



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i86 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

heat of the tropics in places where the land lies 
low — the heat that pursues you by night as well 
as by day, that brings mosquitoes as well as flies, 
and follows you remorselessly like a beast till 
you could cry out in the long pursuit for very 
weariness. Here, we are perched up near the 
skies, and if we are tempted to think that science 
is wrong, and that Icarus may have melted his 
wings after all by going too high, we can still 
thank Heaven for the nights. 

For the nights — and the rain! At last it has 
come, and unless it holds ofl* again for so long a 
time we are not likely to have another great dust- 
storm. Day after day a storm, with the blackness 
of night in its eye, swept across the camp and 
blotted it out You could see it coming like a 
high, forbidding wall, and when it arrived you 
could not see from one tent to another. It tore 
and scoured through the camp ; cattle and horses 
turned their backs to it and drooped their heads, 
or else drifted abjectly before it ; and we in our 
tents sat with choked ears and noses and watery 
eyes ; our papers were covered with a layer of 
dust, and our food was peppered all over before 
we could put it in our mouths. But when the 



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WAITING AGAIN 187 

rain came it performed a miracle; it simply 
washed away the old, dry, withered, khaki-coloured 
face of the country, as though it had swept it out 
with a stroke of a clean wet brush. 

After the first few hours already through the 
shallow soil on the rock came the budding tint which 
was the earnest of green ; first the yellow changed 
from a withered colour into the golden pregnant 
yellow of ripened com, and then from that it sank 
gently down to meet the tenderness of a rising green. 
One woke up the next morning to discover that 
the sky had poured down not water after all, but 
a paint-box full of colours ; to see no longer aridity 
shut in by stern, steel-grey mountains, but a 
waking land of multifarious colours merging its 
delicacies in the richer, fuller bloom of grey and 
blue mountains. And then at night there is the 
unceasing lightning, sometimes near, sometimes 
far away, but always somewhere. 

To know what lightning really is one must come 
here. It is not a mere vivid flash of magnesium 
wire running from sky to earth, which is all we 
know in England ; it is a twisted and multiform 
figure, sometimes forking downwards, sometimes 
running upwards from the earth, sometimes flash- 



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i88 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

ing horizontally as though it were suspended in 
the air ; and its colours are mauve and pink and 
purple, like the colours on those twisted electric 
wires which are contained in glass tubes. Some- 
times it is worth while to be kept awake, and 
one occasion is when the rain is booming like a 
drum on your tight-stretched tent, and the image 
of your cart and your ponies standing outside 
keeps leaping out of the darkness and appearing 
in a perfect shadow-show on the screen made by 
the front of your tent But it blows, too, with 
these storms; and I have spent an hour in the 
darkness holding on to the poles of my tent 
while several of the guy-ropes fretted and flicked 
their pegs out of the ground, and having got 
them at their command whirled and slashed round 
the tent like Kaffir bullock-whips. Then the 
lightning drew away, though it did not cease, 
and the wind snuifed out, as is its way, as 
suddenly as it had come ; and the rest of the 
night was full of quiet breathing. 

Take it for all in all this is a great country for 
campaigning. It would be ideal if there were more 
trees and fewer flies. There are many poisonous 
and voracious flies in Africa, but justice has not 



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WAITING AGAIN 189 

been done to the dangerous qualities of the South 
African domestic fly. It certainly produces a 
kind of madness or frenzy. Its persistence is 
beyond belief. It calls you in the morning early, 
and it spends the day with you in close attendance 
upon your head ; finally it goes to bed in your 
tent near your head, in order that it may be ready 
to call you again the next morning. It is some- 
times a little late in getting up on a cold morning, 
but then it is always too early for you. Its 
faithfulness would only require to be less dis- 
tressing to be admirable. I can ride, for instance, 
from here to the Chieveley camp, seven miles, 
and take the same fly with me all the way there 
and back. After a long journey he may go to 
bed a little earlier — I don't know — but I am sure 
he does not get up any later the next morning. 
But, to return to the graver aspect of our 
situation, what does all this waiting mean? Of 
course we knew that a long wait was intended 
when the greater part of the troops moved back 
to Frere from Chieveley. It means that twenty 
thousand men were not enough to cross the 
Tugela. It means that Sir Redvers BuUer has 
met what is perhaps the greatest irony of his 



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I90 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

life. I believe he said years ago, long before 
war was imminent, that Natal north of the Tugela 
was an impossible field of operations for our 
troops ; and now it is his fate to try to make 
those cursed hills possible. The next fight will 
be a grave moment ; and at least he will not 
make it graver by neglecting to add Sir Charles 
Warren's division to the twenty thousand men 
with whom he fought the battle of Colenso. 
Probably not more than three people know what 
the next plan of attack will be. Shall we try to 
flatten out those desperate Colenso hills with 
howitzers and more guns, and make another 
frontal attack, or shall we send a column to the 
west, or a column to the east, or columns both 
ways simultaneously, while a containing force 
remains at Chieveley? Frankly I am not one 
of the three, and I do not know. But it need 
not be thought that our delay here is entirely 
unprofitable. It need not equal the policy of 
the great Delayer to have still a good deal of 
profit in it And the profit of it is that we are 
pinning down across the Tugela and round Lady- 
smith a force of some 25,000 Boers, many of 
whom would otherwise be employed elsewhere. 



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WAITING AGAIN 191 

The French in Metz were not quite useless while 
they demanded the attention of a couple of 
hundred thousand Germans. In a wide sense, 
too, if you can look at it so, we are besieging 
the Boers in those northern hills of Natal, and 
we might soon be doing so in a more precise 
sense were it not that there is a siege within a 
siege. That Ladysmith should have been held 
at all is the trouble, and it had to be held because 
it had been made a great depdt, and that is the 
greatest trouble of all. Meanwhile our naval guns 
daily shell the Boer trenches for an hour or so. 
None can say what the result is. Are there Boers 
in the trenches when we shell them ? Sometimes 
we know there are, for we see them scattering. 
This at least we know, that when lyddite strikes 
it does not wound, and the resolution with which 
the Boers stay in their trenches must be the 
measure of their losses. 

The Boers continue their conspiracy of invisi- 
bility. Perhaps we have not prosecuted very 
sedulously the policy of worry. Our reconnoitrers 
fail to discover their positions. We have no one 
here who can make them answer to his will with 
the hand and eye of the circus-master. We have 



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192 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

no one who can make them fire all night by 
simply hanging up a red lamp in a field. On one 
of the nights when we feigned an attack the Boers 
simply scrutinised us with a searchlight Our 
searchlight, when it signals to Ladysmith, is met 
by theirs, and the two fence with one another 
ludicrously in the sky. 

The latest diversion in our preparations here is 
the arrival of the traction engines and a balloon. 
The traction engines go faster than any I ever 
saw. The balloon has not yet risen. The fact is 
there has been a miscalculation. The balloon is 
designed to ascend 4,000 feet, which is excellent 
at Aldershot ; but here we are up 3,500 feet 
already, so that the balloon has a margin in hand 
of only 500 feet I hope the aeronauts will 
manage to get it up by relieving it of the cradle 
and sending up some light, acrobatic observer in 
the ropes. Otherwise I fear that when we get to 
a still higher place in the hills the balloon will 
try to go through the ground. 

Mr. Winston Churchill has returned to us, 
haggard after his escape from Pretoria. After 
chafing in confinement he was hunted for nine 
days — and what is more wearing than to be pur- 



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WAITING AGAIN 193 

sued ? Yet I do not know which — ^the chafing or 
the being pursued — would make a man of his 
character the paler. I think the chafing. He 
has told me the story of his escape, but I must 
not tell it for him. Over ninety shells, he said, 
were fired at the armoured train. " Yes, you were 
right," he went on, " shell fire is a firework — ^but 
a terrifying firework." We had discussed it on 
board the Dunottar Castle^ and I had said that 
shell fire was a firework compared with bullets. 

Then he explained how the party in the 
armoured train came to surrender. '* Now mind 
— no surrender ! " Haldane had said as the party 
left the train to fall back on some cottages. How 
often I had heard Haldane and Churchill crying 
out upon the number of prisoners taken in this 
campaign! But two Tommies waved handker- 
chiefs without authority, and in a moment the 
Boers were sweeping round them — it was out of 
the question to fire when the signal had been 
accepted — ^''rounding us up," as Churchill said, 
" like cattle ! The greatest indignity of my life ! " 
Churchill had been merely grazed on the hand. 
The officer commanding the Boer guns came down 
from his kopje and raised his hat to his prisoners. 
O 



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194 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

" I regret very much," said he, " the necessity of 
firing on you, but the fortunes of war, you know — 
my turn to-day, perhaps your turn to-morrow ! " 
— SL sentiment quite in the manner of the past 
times that people praise. 

Then came the long march to the Boer camp, 
with scrupulously polite conversation. 

" What garrison have you at Estcourt? " a Boer 
officer asked Churchill. 

" Forgive me," was the answer, given in the tone 
of all the conversation, " but is that, do you think 
a fair question to ask me, even though I am a 
prisoner ? " 

" I beg your pardon," said the Boer ; " I should 
not have asked it" And it was not asked 
again. 

At last the Boer camp was reached, and at night 
— the last thing — came a volume of sound that 
swept on to ChurchiU's ears as he lay on the 
ground, and startled him almost inhumanly. It 
was a volume of human voices singing the fervid 
closing psalm of the day. " Ah, but it was worse 
than shells to hear," he told me. '' It struck the 
fear of God into me. What sort of men are these 
we are fighting? They have the better cause — 



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WAITING AGAIN 195 

and the cause is everything — ^at least, I mean to 
them it is the better cause." 

••In Pretoria," he continued, "all the Boers I 
met asked me what we were fighting for. To 
them — ^and the argument was repeated by all like 
a lesson learned by rote — it appeared that the war 
had come about because the wicked capitalists 
wished to take their country. They were fighting 
for their homes. * But,* they used to say, * none 
of your officers can tell us what the war is about 
They say they fight because they are told to fight 
Is not that very wrong ? ' " 

When Churchill escaped he left a letter for a 
Boer official who had often visited him, regretting 
that circumstances did not permit him to take a 
more formal farewell. Then came the nine days 
flight with his footsteps dogged. How he wandered 
in a wood and hid in a goods train is not my story 
to tell ; it must be read as he writes it Here, I 
know, he sits in my tent with a new and lively 
conviction of the Boer military genius. 



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CHAPTER X 

WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 

Near Potgietbr's Drift, 

Sunday, January i^ih, 1900. 

SUCH a banging had never been heard at 
Ladysmitk The voice of guns that floated 
over the hills to us who lay in Frere Camp was 
almost incessant, and reminded us of the first 
hours in the battle of Colenso. It was early — still 
dark — on Saturday, January 6th, and the sound 
had awakened some of us. Boom — ^boom — boom 
— boom ! What a cannonade ! Sometimes one 
could swear the sound was coming nearer as it 
burst down the breeze. Was Sir George White 
making out of Ladysmith southward ? At other 
times it receded on the varying wind till it fell, 
the merest crepitation, on the ear. Anyhow, some- 
thing extraordinary was happening; perhaps the 

garrison of Ladysmith was crowning with some 

196 



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WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 197 

act of skill and gallantry a skilful and gallant 
siege; perhaps the siege was now coming to its 
loud termination, and having come would still 
remain memorable for resource and daring, and 
memorable as the siege by which Sir George 
White won back his reputation. 

In the afternoon the heliographs winked out the 
explanation : the Boers had assaulted Ladysmith, 
had pressed the attack home with unquestionable 
courage, but had been beaten splendidly back on 
all sides ; Lord Ava was badly wounded ; the battle 
was continuing ; the list of casualties would follow. 
With that little we must remain content till the 
sun flickered through a black sky for only a few 
minutes the next day, and then we learned that 
the battle had see-sawed all day ; that three times 
the Boers had taken trenches on Caesar's Camp, 
and three times had been driven out; that only 
one captured position had remained in their hands 
all day, and that at dusk the Devons, in a charge, 
had taken that back too, with the bayonet In 
short, we had routed the Boers, and the Boers had 
routed the last of our fallacies — the fallacy that 
they were incapable of assaulting a fortified place. 
Possibly they liked the job little enough; they 



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198 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

had taken long to make up their minds to it ; but 
still they had done it, and done it with courage. 

The casualties on our side, fourteen officers 
killed, thirty-one wounded; 143 men killed, 228 
wounded (an unusual proportion of killed to 
wounded) showed that the fighting had been at 
very close quarters. And the Boer loss ? So far 
as I can ascertain it was roughly 150 killed and 
600 wounded. Mr. Kruger is said to have ordered 
the assault Whoever ordered it was indisputably 
right ; on all tactical grounds it was advisable to 
take Ladysmith then if it ever could be taken, 
and disengage the investing force for the defence 
of the Tugela. 

The assault failed, and is only one more 
proof of a belief that approaches universal ac- 
ceptance — namely, that a soundly fortified place 
defended by modem weapons cannot be taken 
by a frontal attack unless those weapons be in 
the hands of incompetents. The Boers, with all 
the advantages of numbers, fail to take Kimberley, 
Mafeking, Ladysmith ; we fail to take the fortified 
hills wherever they stand in the way of our 
advance. According to the merely mechanical 
computations, then, to which all military reckon- 



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WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 199 

ings are reduced to-day, it is necessary to out- 
number one's enemy by three or four to one, to 
have a fair chance of working round his flanks and 
driving him from hills and trenches. The Boers 
unhappily have the positions — they took them 
before we arrived — and it is not true to say that 
we shall be able to defeat them only by out- 
numbering them in a cowardly manner. They 
would need to do the same thing if they were in 
our place ; the need is imposed not so much by 
disparities in skill or courage as by the calculable 
restrictions of modern warfare. 

I rode over early to Chieveley on the morning 
of the assault on Ladysmith ; the sound of the 
firing might awake a response there, as it had 
already aroused an echo. I saw many Boers 
scurrying over the hills at the back of Colenso 
towards Ladysmith. Was not this the time, if 
not to test again the strength of the enemy, at 
least to relieve the pressure on Ladysmith? 
Slowly the idea became an order in the camp, 
and the order became a body of men marching 
out on to the plain — Hildyard's and Barton's 
brigades, the Mounted Infantry, and a couple of 
batteries. This was not till two o'clock. The 



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200 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

infantry advanced very slowly in dotted lines and 
the batteries began to search the Boer positions, 
working from east to west till they had studded 
the whole line with shells. While the guns 
barked, a great darkness and a veiling mist 
drifted down on the hills so that they were hidden 
from our naval gunners at Chieveley Camp ; the 
naval gunners ceased firing, and the flashes of the 
field artillery on the plain were like matches being 
struck in the dark. Then came lightning in the 
inkiness, vivid and ghastly, striking down 
vertically on to the Colenso hills, but not a 
syllable of an answer did the Boers offer to the 
bombardment of either heaven or earth. If this 
is a ** demonstration " (which it was), let it be, they 
thought ; if not, let us wait till it comes nearer. 
But the temptation to spend ammunition on our 
retirement must have been almost unconquerable. 
What is this wonderful intelligence in the in- 
dividual that links itself into a chain through all 
the commandoes, and plays the part of a cultivated 
discipline ? 

On Tuesday, January 9th, I happened to be 
riding back from Estcourt to Frere. Sir Charles 
Warren's division was marching on the same road. 



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WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 201 

It was raining. The sky might have been — ^indeed, 
it was — a shower-bath. The rain came through 
the still air in a steady, teeming, straight downpour 
that threshed in one's ears. I wore an oilskin coat, 
but it was useless ; the rain found assailable chinks 
or else beat its way through, I know not which. 
I know only that in five minutes I was wet to the 
skin. The hills seemed to melt down like tallow 
under heat ; the rain beat the earth into liquid and 
the thick, earthy liquid ran down in terraced 
cascades. Wherever one turned one's pony, on 
the road or aside into the veldt, he splashed ankle- 
deep. From Estcourt to Frere the division waded, 
sliding, sucking, pumping, gurgling through the 
mud ; the horses floundered or toboganned with 
all four feet together ; the waggons lurched axle- 
deep into heavy sloughs and had to be dragged 
out with trebled teams of oxen. And it was cold 
too, for the rain of even a tropical country can 
make you cold when you have been wet to the 
skin for hours. Men who had halted by the 
wayside for the frequent undesired rests shivered 
with grey, wet faces, played at hot-hands, chewed 
pipes which had long since gone out, and which 
there was no hope of relighting, or cheered to 
show that they were neither wet nor miserable. 



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202 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

I happened to fall in with a staff officer and 
at last we came to a place where the troops 
thickened on the road and flowed out on both 
sides on to the veldt It was a block. And the 
explanation sounded audibly in our ears — at the 
foot of the hill a tearing stream, boiling and 
foaming over the rocks. 

" A river ! " said the staff officer. « I thought 
you knew this road?" 

" I've been over it a few times," said I. 

" Surely, you knew then that there was a river ? " 

" There never was before." 

And now we began to see that this rollicking 
stream was the growth of only two or three hours. 
There, on the other side, was a whole battalion 
which had passed through it only an hour before 
and was now cut off from us. Staff officers 
trotted up and down the banks and asked if the 
pontoons were not yet in sight; a sapper was 
casting a plummet into the water and drawing 
it up every time with a very grave face. Still the 
pontoons did not come. But afler we had waited 
an hour the water began to fall as quickly as it 
must have risen. Probably less water was coming 
from the hills, though where we stood it was 



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WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 203 

raining as hard as ever. The water must have 
sunk two or three feet while I watched it, but 
still no one seemed to have a thought of crossing 
without the pontoons. It was at this point that 
a colonial trotted down to the stream, looking 
neither to right nor left at the block; perhaps 
he thought we had halted for a rest or for fun. 
He drove his horse in, kicked him in the sides, 
drew up his legs, and — by Jove ! — he was across. 
This fussing stream was not so bad as it looked. 
My pony stood as high as the colonial's, and the 
lead was good enough. Jab in your spurs, draw 
your knees up on the saddle, keep your horse's 
head up-stream, and never look at the water ; 
there is a plunge in the middle when the horse 
is nearly or quite off his legs for a second and 
a rushing in your ears, the water is piled up at 
his chest, and then it begins to fall away on his 
dripping flanks, and suddenly you are trotting up 
the opposite bank. This was the beginning of the 
flood which turned out to be at once the anxiety 
and the advantage of the whole army. Thus Sir 
Charles Warren's division came to Frere. 

Sir Redvers Buller has now some 30,000 men. 
These are: the 2nd Division (Sir F. Clery), 



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204 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

including 2nd Brigade (Hildyard), 5th Brigade 
(Hart), and 6th Brigade (Barton). The divisional 
troops are one squadron 13th Hussars, the 7th, 
64th, and 73rd batteries R.F.A. (Parsons). Am- 
munition column, the 17th Field Company R.E. 
The Sth Division (Sir Charles Warren) includes 
4th Brigade (Lyttelton), and nth Brigade (Coke), 
which consists of 2nd Royal Lancaster Regiment, 
2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, ist South Lancashire 
Regiment, and ist York and Lancaster Regiments ; 
and the divisional troops are one squadron 13th 
Hussars, the 19th, 28th, and 63rd batteries R.F.A. 
(Montgomery), and the ammunition column is the 
37th Field Company R.E. The lOth Brigade, 
including the 2nd Dorsets, 2nd Middlesex, and 
2nd Somerset Light Infantry, is being employed 
as an odd brigade to be drawn upon when neces- 
sary. The corps troops are one squadron of the 
13th Hussars attached to headquarters, the 78th 
Battery R.F.A., the 6 ist Howitzer Battery, No. 4 
Mountain Battery (2*5 inch), &c. — the Mounted 
Infantry being nearly 3,000 men. 

In this list I have given the constitution only 
of the brigades which I have not described in 
earlier chapters. 



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WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 205 

Warren's troops shook out their tents for one 
night at Frere. First, up with the poles to get 
the distances right, and acres of ground suddenly 
become a hop-garden in early spring ; then down 
with the poles and hook on the canvas, and next 
you have a reeling set of houses swinging askew ; 
that stage lasts till the anvil-clatter of the mallets 
and p^s has ceased and the ropes are drawn 
tight ; and then the tents stiffen up and hold 
themselves erect like soldiers ; and, behold, there 
is a neat town of conical houses as tight as drums. 
The men gratefully draw themselves inside, 
buzzing with conversation. Here at last a man 
can light a pipe I 

All Wednesday and Thursday, January loth 
and nth, the great column — 30,000 men, taking 
their tents and all their transport — the whole of 
Buller's army, was moving westward to Spring- 
field. When the American military attach^ had 
been shown the Colenso hills after the reverse 
of December 15th, and he had gazed at them for 
a few minutes, he said to the officer with him, 
" Say, colonel, is there no way round ? " Now we 
were trying a way round. 

None of us had ever seen such a sight You 



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io6 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

looked down from any hill and the army was 
like a rope being drawn slowly across the country 
as far as you could see ; here and ' there it 
dropped into a spruit, but it rose again on the 
other side ; here and there it disappeared behind 
a kopje, but you could pick it up again beyond. 
It seemed endless, this rope made of all the 
strands that hold an army together — ^infantry, 
guns, gunners, ammunition, horsemen, waggons 
vnth forage, rations and tents ; waggons hung all 
over like a gipsy van with clattering utensils, 
Kaffirs plying whips like fishing-rods, bakers, 
cooks, farriers, telegraphists, type-writers, pay- 
masters, and paymasters' clerks, post-office clerks, 
tel^^ph wires and poles, sappers, chaplains, 
doctors, ambulance waggons, bearers, **body- 
snatchers," signallers with flags and heliographs, 
sailors, naval guns, headquarters staffs, cobblers, 
balloons, and aeronauts, limelight flashlights, 
traction engines with heavy lists to port or 
starboard, pontoons, &c, &c., &c 

Frere was left once again a hollow place. Bar- 
ton's brigade remained at Chieveley as a containing 
force, endowed with that precious possession, the 
Russian poodle — ^the name given to the armoured 



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WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 207 

engine which the sailors had draped all over with 
ropes hanging down to the ground in tassels. 
Hildyard's brigade marched over the hills from 
Chieveley and cut into the main column on the 
Springfield road. The rain had ceased, but the 
floods were out, and the passages through spruits 
were nightmares^arts overturned in the water, 
wheels ofT, mules mixed up, fighting and knotted in 
their harness and half drowning, oxen with their 
heads borne down under water and heaving with 
all their mighty strength to the opposite bank, a 
gun or a heavy waggon stuck, and the river of 
traffic looping round it as water flows round an 
island ; spare teams of oxen moving about to help 
the unfortunate out of difficulties, a traction engine, 
with one wheel almost buried in soft mud and two 
other engines pulling at it ; Kaffir drivers with 
fearful mouthings yapping like terriers, having 
nearly lost their voices, or making no noise at all ; 
Kaffirs flogging animals indiscriminately and the 
animals bearing the weals on their bodies ; mules 
consenting to be flogged so long as they snatched 
passing mouthfuls of water; fatigue parties of 
soldiers throwing down rushes on the squishy mud 
to make it unappreciably firmer. And imagine all 



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2o8 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

this scene, directed (if you care to add to the 
nightmare), directed by a man who is one of the 
worst types of the colonial, a man constantly 
laying his whip across the heads of Kaffirs — a per- 
formance for which he wins the applause, without 
inquiry, of some one on the bank who deserves to 
rank as his equal — a man who mistakes rudeness 
for independence and surliness for firmness. At 
least it was pleasant to see that we could beat some 
people at their own trades — for nothing went better 
through the traps of mud and water than the limber 
teams of our own gunners. A dash, a clatter, a 
frothing, and before you could wink your eye they 
were on the other bank ! The colonials stared, 
open-eyed. 

But this new land we marched into was, on the 
whole, green and pleasant Sometimes it was like 
a riding of Yorkshire for clean and airy emptiness ; 
sometimes, for the dark trees, the drifting mist on 
the hills, and the discoloured broken streams, it 
reminded one of Scotland. Here were marching 
Yorkshire troops who had left England exactly 
four weeks before, and they might now have been 
in their own country. 

The column emulated the army in Flanders 



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WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 209 

and swore terribly. And the reason of the 
swearing was that the floods were out and it 
was supposed that we were too late to cross the 
Tugela. But it so happened that the flood was 
to our advantage. The Boers, too, who were on 
this side of the Tugela feared that they would not 
be able to recross it, and they left the great hill bar- 
ring the way to Potgieter's Drift, meaning no doubt 
to reoccupy it later. Lord Dundonald, who had 
gone ahead of the column with some mounted 
infantry, had no orders to go beyond Springfield, 
but when he found that Observation Hill, as we 
have named our new position, was unoccupied, he 
marched on to it and held it Six hundred men 
and two guns to keep it I An anxious night was 
passed ; it was a strange thing this unoccupied hill, 
there might be some snare. But daylight showed 
the truth, in the shape of a noble panorama. We 
had gained much by winning the race for the hill — 
for the first time we looked down on the Boers — 
but we had not gained everything. Near Pot- 
gieter's Drift the river makes a tongue of land 
where troops would have to enter in tight forma- 
tion, and this tongue is commanded by hills on 
the right, the left, and in front No doubt the 
P 



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2IO THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Boers were satisfied with what they had re- 
tained. 

Observation Hill falls deeply and precipitously 
towards the river ; and the Tugela (a Meander of a 
river) doubles and redoubles upon itself, a glistening 
band at our feet. To the north-east we look across 
open country and can see, not Ladysmith itself, but 
one of our camps just outside it What a view of 
a battle there would be from Observation Hill ; it 
would be spread like a war-game on a table for one's 
inspection ! " We ought to 'ave the Queen 'ere to 
see it," said a gunner. ** Ah, then we should smash 
'em I " said his loyal comrade. 

On the hills opposite us the Boers work con- 
tinually ; at least this time we can see some of their 
guns. " Good navvies, ain't they ? " said my friend 
the gunner ; and his comrade rejoined, " Like moles 
— the way they turn the earth over ! " Then he 
continued, " What are we showin' ourselves and our 
gruns 'ere for ? " Upon that the first gunner replied 
ironically, " Don't yer know ? Thaf s to give 'cm 
plenty of time to get ready." 

Plenty of time to get ready! Having arrived 
here with a dash we have sat down and done nothing 
for two days, while a great part of the army has 



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WE TRY ONE WAY ROUND 211 

remained strung out on the road behind us. But 
does not this mean that the Boers are welcome to 
fix their guns, that we intend no second frontal 
attack, that there is even yet another way round ? 



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CHAPTER XI 
ACROSS THE TUGELA 

Spearman's Farm Camp, 

Sunday, January 2^th, 190a 

ACROSS the Tugela! There at the foot of 
Mount Ah'ce was the familiar line of troops, 
moving snakewise by the devious track ; its head 
had already darted across the river, and not a shot 
had been fired. Ah, but would not the sudden 
yellow flashes rip along that row of hills in front? 
Remembering Colenso, one looked from the troops 
to the hills, and from the hills to the troops in a 
constant anxious alternation. But the line drew 
itself continually forward along the track. To me, 
looking down on the troops from Mount Alice — a 
hill fit for Xerxes to watch from — ^the men were 
little figures being moved about on a map. The 
map was large, the figures were small. The veldt 
can swallow up thirty or forty thousand men and 



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ACROSS THE TUGELA 213 

make nothing of them ; you might gaze across a 
few clear miles of it and not see that the army, 
whose mobilisation has caused so much fuss and 
expense, was there at all. And then the hills 
opposite Mount Alice were gloomy and leaden and 
silent; and the light was like that of a dull 
November afternoon in England. Not a man, not 
a sign of life showed. Were the Boers really 
there? Was this war at all? 

The men were wading across the river at Pot- 
gieter's Drift holding on to one another's rifles; 
some were resting on a tiny archipelago half way 
over; others were neck-deep (and they had to 
bivouac that night I) ; others again were being 
hauled across in a pont — the pont which some of 
the South African Horse had won by swimming 
across under fire when Lord Dundonald had made 
his dash on Mount Alice — these men stood in a row, 
glued together at the shoulders like little wooden 
soldiers. It was the evening of Tuesday, January 
i6th, and this was General Lyttelton's brigade 
crossing. Those who were waiting for their turn 
to go over spread out in hedges and divided the 
veldt into Sussex meadows. The evening was 
heavy-eyed and silent — dead ; you imagined that 



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214 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

men down there spoke to one another in whispers : 
a dreary mist bringing the night was dropping down 
the hills, the river was dross of lead, a changing 
breeze in the mimosas, the creak of a waggon-wheel 
below, the whirr of partridges and the cry of other 
birds fell on your ear, with a stroke almost 
mysterious. Two battalions had halted half-way 
down to the river, and their fires twinkled brighter 
and brighter. They were to cross in the morning. 
But already we had thrown an arm over the river 
to show that it was ours : we had done it without 
firing a shot, yet the sight had thrilled me more 
than a battle could. 

Mount Alice takes one step down to the river, 
and on the step— a broad plateau — six naval 
twelve-pounders were placed. On one of the 
crests of Mount Alice were two 47 naval guns. 
January 17th was the first day of serious bombard- 
ment The naval guns were helped by six howitzers 
placed among the sheltering infantry behind a 
string of small kopjes just across the river. 
Submarine mines of earth and smoke — as they 
seemed — began to spout into the air where the 
lyddite struck ; on the left the shells struck on the 
eastern and northern ridges of Spion Kop; to 



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ACROSS THE TUGELA 215 

the right they struck on Brakfontein ; in the lower, 
more open country between they fell on road and 
plain, and in the twisted dongas. Up, down, high 
and low, this side and beyond, they peppered the 
faces of the hills. Sometimes the explosion was 
all a pure white burst of smoke, sometimes it was 
all a cloud of red-brown dust ; sometimes — and 
then it seemed most terrible — it was a great dark 
black and grey pillar seamed viciously with white. 
The noise of a bombardment in a hilly country 
seems to reveal an instrument of changing tunes. 
The first clean whistle of the projectile as it goes 
from the muzzle of the gun becomes the sound of 
a train passing through a valley or dashing out of 
a tunnel when the hills and kloofs catch the rushing 
voice in the air and give it back. Sometimes there 
is the rasping noise of iron being drawn over iron 
which strikes you as the wrong song for the 
smooth, whizzing missile ; sometimes there is the 
far truer note of a scythe swishing through grass. 
Upon the flash and smoke rolling upwards comes 
the crash of the explosion — the thunder, if the shell 
was fired from a howitzer — rolling in the folds of 
the hills and dying in a wail. You might have 
thought that the hills opposite were held (at an 



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2i6 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

extravagant estimate) by fifty men. When you 
had searched them for a couple of hours with your 
glasses you had seen perhaps six Boers. Some 
dummy epaulments were plain but if there were 
guns anywhere you could not see them. If this 
had been your first experience of the Boers you 
might have said, " There are no Boers, we can walk 
over those hills when we like." I had seen the 
battle of Colenso, and therefore I did not say it or 
think it The explosion of our shells was the only 
sound that came from the Boer hills. At last we 
grew confidently to expect no answer from tjie 
enemy ; we stood about on our skyline to watch 
the bombardment, and no longer looked to see 
British gunners fall by their guns in full view of 
the enemy. The Boer knows how to sacrifice an 
opportunity to the possibility of a better. 

" What are we waiting 'ere for ? Why don't we 
go on?" 

It was the question one private asked another 
on Mount Alice. 

Don't yer know?' 

No," said the first man. 

To give the Boers time to build up their 
trenches and fetch up their guns. Fair — ain't it ? " 



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ACROSS THE TUGELA 217 

That was the private soldier's laconic criticism 
of the General's policy. I do not take the res- 
ponsibility of confirming it ; on the other hand, 
I shun the equal responsibility of traversing it 
A week passed between the arrival of most 
of our troops and the delivery of Sir Charles 
Warren's attack. Every day we waited at Spear- 
man's Farm Camp we could see men and 
waggons arriving by the Colenso and Ladysmith 
roads at the rear of the Boer position. But if I 
form my own opinion at least I feel assured that 
some equally obvious reflections must have pre- 
sented themselves to the General. 

On one of these days — ^Wednesday, January 17th 
— ^we who kept watch on Mount Alice saw for the 
first time a narrow strip of black stretched across 
the river five miles to the west In the glasses it 
became a pontoon bridge, and, further, something 
moved upon it The uncertain objects resolved 
themselves; a long column wriggled out from a 
gully ; men, horses, guns, waggons, moved steadily 
across the bridge ; on the other side the infantry 
filed up into pools of brown, then ordered them- 
selves and went forward in open lines. Sir Charles 
Warren was crossing the Tugela at Waggon Drift- 



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2i8 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Boom, boom, boom, boom I The sound of fifteen- 
pounders floated up to us. It was really nothing 
at all — ^a handful of Boers had sniped at the 
troops from a farmhouse and the gunners were 
telling them not ta The few Boers fled up the 
hills; one man in the Devons lay dead from a 
long-range stray shot 

All that day and the next the column moved 
across; there were Sir Charles Warren, General 
Clery, General Hildyard and his brigade. General 
Hart and his brigade, General Woodgate and 
his brigade, Lord Dundonald and the mounted 
infantry, and half a dozen batteries. The next 
day Warren's column was still crossing, and on the 
same day General Lyttelton's brigade made a 
demonstration in front of Mount Alice. 

The business of demonstrators is to appear to be 
about to do something which they have no intention 
of doing. Now the brigade went out with attack 
written on its face ; it advanced in an order more 
open than I had ever seen employed before — 
General L3^elton is a man who knows what he is 
about — ^and arrived almost within rifle shot of the 
Boer hills. If the Boers had fired the appearance 
of attack would have melted from the face of the 



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ACROSS THE TUGELA 219 

brigade, we should have known where the Boer 
guns were, and we should have kept back some of 
the enemy who might have gone to trouble Sir 
Charles Warren. Something of that sort is what is 
expected of every ordinarily constituted enemy 
before whom a demonstration is made. But you 
might as well set a terrier running before the Boer 
lines and expect that their fire will be drawn as 
hope to draw it by a demonstration. 

This was the day that the balloon disappointed 
the pessimists. It swelled into a great yellow 
tulip growing out of the veldt behind the kopjes 
across the river, and then it sailed nobly up, car 
and all, and the man in the car signalled what 
he could see. One day later, when the Boers had 
indulged us for the first time by firing a few 
rounds from a Vickers-Maxim, the balloon was 
shot through by a shell, but the rent nearly 
closed itself automatically, and the " balloonatic " 
in the car — the word by which some one has ex- 
pressed the combination of reckless qualities which 
are necessary to the true military aeronaut — 
stayed up for an hour afterwards, doubtful but 
heroic, lest the Boers' should think it was any use 
firing shells at a balloon. 



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220 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

On Friday, January 19th, I crossed Wa^on 
Drift, and rode some five miles further to the 
advanced position of Sir Charles Warren, who was 
now marching west Obviously the plan was this: 
Warren was to make a long march round and 
attack the Boer hills in the rear, and the force 
remaining at Potgieter's Drift would simultaneously 
attack them in front Warren's troops were, in a 
word, to become a detached force; they would 
disappear round the stretching hills and when we 
heard them banging away behind Spion Kop we 
who stayed behind would have our signal to 
advance. I found the force halted in a saucer of 
ground — guns limbered up and ready to move on, 
waggons, and infinite teams of oxen and mules, 
infantry in patches, men asleep on their backs 
with the Hies in a swarm about them, and the 
spiteful sun scorching their faces. The sappers 
were throwing a bridge across Venter's Spruit, a 
tributary of the Tugela, but the column could 
cross somehow without that 

" What are we waiting for ? " A gunner with his 
helmet tilted over his nose spoke from the ground 

** Cavalry support, I suppose," an equally sleepy 
voice answered. 



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ACROSS THE TUGELA 221 

" Hope we shan't stay in this hole to-night See 
that hill over there?" 

Two or three heads were raised. 
Good place for a gun. What do you think ? " 

•* A Boer gun?" 

" Yes — nothing to prevent it, is there ? " 

"Nothing that I can see — they will have one 
there by the morning if we don't look out" 

« Ah, there's the cavalry ! " 

A popping of rifles came from beyond the 
ridges north of us. Cavalry patrols were on the 
southern slopes of the chain of hills which shoots 
out roughly at right angles from the western flank 
of Spion Kop and lies, roughly again, parallel with 
the Tugela. The river and the hills run east and 
west On the sky-line of the hills we could see 
hundreds of Boers keeping pace with Warren's 
march. When the Boers are on the high sky-lines 
and connected ridges they do not mind showing 
themselves. It was the old situation ; the Boers 
up in the skies and we looking at them from low 
and cuppy ground. 

I wandered on to a patch of infantry ; officers 
lay under waggons, not all were sheltered : some 
had only their heads possessing a bit of the slender 
shadow. 



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222 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

" Have you seen my battalion ? " 

The officer who asked me was seated on a sort 
of high improvised throne under a hood at the 
back of a large waggon, and reminded one of a 
circus-queen in a procession. I had no idea where 
his battalion was. He told me the force had five 
days' food, so that it had to march round, fight, 
and join hands with Sir Redvers Buller in five 
days. What food there was was therefore of a 
stem quality, and the officer accepted a tin of 
sardines from me with a diverting mixture of 
rapture and scruples. 

Warren's force appeared to be now detached. 
I wished it luck and hurried homewards lest the 
bridge at Waggon Drift — the last link between 
the two wings of the army — should be cut before 
I reached it But the next morning showed that 
there had been a complete change of plans, partly, 
I suppose, because the food with the force was 
not enough for the undertaking, and the delay of 
waiting for more would have been fatal; and 
partly because it had been discovered that after 
all there was no way round to the back of Spion 
Kop through open country. The hills on which 
the Boers were, are, in fact, a spur of the Drakens- 



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ACROSS THE TUGELA 223 

berg mountains; wherever Sir Charles Warren 
might go he must go through mountains. There- 
fore the force had doubled back on itself, extri- 
cated itself from the dangerous hollow of ground, 
and before daylight was advancing towards the 
crest of the hills immediately west of Spion Kop. 
This was on Saturday, January 20th. It was the 
first day of a six days' battle. 



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CHAPTER XII 

THE BATTLES OF VENTER'S SPRUIT AND 
SPION KOP 

Spearman's Farm Camp, 

Tuesday^ January soih, 1900. 

IF you looked up from the Tugela to the hills 
in which Sir Charles Warren fought you 
would say that they rose in a continuous slope to 
the top. But South African hills are like the sea: 
at a distance they seem smooth, but look close 
into them and you will find unsuspected valleys 
and crests. Nothing on the face of South African 
nature is what it seems. You see the British 
trenches up there, seeming to lie immediately 
under the Boer trenches, but if you go up you 
will find that they are on different hills, and a 
deep valley lies between. You see troops march 
out on to a sheer plain ; and when they have 
disappeared suddenly in their march you learn for 

aa4 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 225 

the first time that the plain is no plain but is full 
of dips and rises, dongas and unremarked kopjes. 
From the river it seemed for almost a week that 
Warren's troops were within charging distance of 
the crests of all those hills ; really they remained 
from the crests the distance that separates a 
victory from a retirement 

If a turning movement was to be made in those 
hills at all it needed to be made at once — ^before 
the Boers had built their works so far to the west 
If time were allowed to pass, the turning move- 
ment became a frontal attack. It was Sir Charles 
Warren's misfortune to make a frontal attack. 

It were unprofitable and tedious to describe all 
the details of a six days' battle which was visible 
only on one side. On all those days in varying 
d^rees the hills crashed with guns and rattled 
with musketry. At a little distance you might 
have supposed that the resonant noises came from 
some haunted mountain ; for the hills looked 
sleepy and peaceful and deserted, and there 
seemed to be no reason for all those strange 
sounds — the bark of field guns, the crackle of 
musketry, the rapping of Vickers-Maxims, and 
the tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat of Maxims. 
Q 



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226 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

At 3 SLin. on Saturday, January 20th, General 
Woodgate occupied a kopje half-way up to the 
crest-line of the hills, and guns were placed on it 
Three Tree Hill it was named, though the cause 
of the name was soon removed. More guns were 
placed on a kopje to the right, more again to the 
left on the plain at the foot of the hills.. Only 
the great hill Spion Kop now divided the right 
wing of our army — ^the force, that is to say, at 
Polgieter's — from the left. At eight o'clock the 
guns on Three Tree Hill fired the first cannon-shots 
ever heard on those desolate hills. The infantry 
prepared to advance; General Woodgate was on 
the right, General Hart was in the middle, General 
Hildyard was on the left, but two battalions (the 
Lancashire Fusiliers and the York and Lancaster 
Regiment) belonging to General Woodgate's 
Lancashire Brigade had been transferred to 
General Hart's brigade. Up went the infantry, 
for another attack on hills, another frontal attack I 
You had some difficulty to pick them out from 
the freckled hillsides — were those rocks or men 
in khaki up there on the side of that kopje? 
Rocks. No— they move — they are men. They 
advance. General Hart, with the strongest 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 227 

brigade, was ahead of the others. One inferior 
height after another was put behind him in the 
series of kopjes that rise to the sky. And the 
Boers? They were invisible. Jagged schantzes 
against the sky showed where a few hundreds 
were. The rest had become part of the rocks and 
the brown grass. Soon even our own infantry 
became invisible from Three Tree Hill — invisible, 
unless you had the true eye for infantry, which 
can pick out its object, as the fisherman can in a 
stream, when another eye sees nothing. These 
are not the days in which a line of men four deep 
marches up to a similar line, and when both have 
discharged their weapons point-blank the line that 
remains the less thin marches through the other. 

Weapons, we are told to-day, are too terrible for 
wars to continue. What an ironical thing is fact I 
Soon, if the Boers cannot be dislodged by the long 
range skirmishing imposed by modern weapons, we 
may really return to the practices of the terrible 
old days. If we attack with a sufficient number 
of men — ^how many Heaven only knows ! — some 
must get through and be alive at the end of the 
day. Shall we emulate Grant in the American 
Civil War and launch a mass of men against a 



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228 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

mass of men, and disregard losses when we call 
the issue of the day a victory ? We may come to 
that But we have not yet 

Our own infantry, I say, were almost invisible. 
In Hart's brigade the York and Lancaster 
Regiment and the Lancashire Fusiliers — regi- 
ments just arrived at the front — were in the 
firing line. The Dublins and the Border Regiment 
were almost level with them. The lines indeed 
had become mixed and broken — ^but not broken 
in retreat For the first time a change had 
come over our infantry: they dropped behind 
shelter with an inspiration caught fix>m their 
enemies, watched their opportunities, and moved 
forward with a most notable combination of caution 
and dash. Their skill was not yet, of course, the 
skill of the enemy, and an advance, however skilful, 
has still to be made more or less openly. Men 
were dropping, but the ground gained was a fair 
return for the expenditure. To say that is to 
vindicate the tactics of the day. May the inspira- 
tion of our men on that Saturday grow I 

Eye and intelligence alone are needed ; the 
cheeriness, the quality of endurance, are fully there. 
I saw one man (in the enjoyment of one of those 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 229 

trifling licenses which are permitted on active 
service) trudging happily to the firing h'ne with a 
puppy under his arm. The naif act was somehow 
characteristic, and I scarcely knew whether to 
think it amusing or pathetic. I wonder how the 
man and the dog spent that day. Did the dog 
return yapping at the heels of stretcher-bearers? 

On our extreme left a headland ran out from the 
range of hills southward into the plain, and the 
mounted infantry were opposite the southern face 
of it Bastion Hill it had been suitably named. 
" Go a little way up it See what sort of place it 
is, and who is there. If it is strongly held come 
back, but if it is not, go on, take it, and hold it" 
That was the sense of the order given to Lord 
Dundonald. When an officer is told to go on if 
he can, he finds in most cases that he can ; and 
that is just what Lord Dundonald did that day. 

The South African Light Horse were told to go 
first. They dismounted and drew open like a fan 
into their line of advance. Now there was one 
man called Tobin — a sailor — and he sprang at the 
hill as though it were the familiar rigging of a ship. 
Up he went hand over hand, up an ascent like the 
slope of a bell-tent Every one who watched held 



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230 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

his breath for the man to fall — ^not from the steep- 
ness, but from a bullet Ten minutes before all 
the others he reached the top. There he stood 
against the sky and waved his helmet on his rifle. 
No Boer was there, and the hill in a few minutes 
was ours. "It was splendid to watch," Lord 
TuUibardine said the next day. " It was a V.C. 
thing, and yet, if you know what I mean, it wasn't" 
Yes, I knew what he meant ; but the absence of 
Boers made no jot of difference to the motive of 
Tobin. Shall we not invent a reward for acts of 
valour which turn out to have been misprompted ? 
If the top of Bastion Hill was empty, one of 
those accursed, unexpected ridges beyond it — ^they 
ought to be expected by this time at any rate — 
was not When the Mounted Infantrymen sat 
down on the top of Bastion Hill the fusilade on 
them began. Major Childe — Childe-Pemberton 
he used to be — was soon killed. He was grey- 
headed, but this was the first day of his life in 
action. He had prophesied the night before that 
he would be killed, " If I am killed," said he, 
" put this as my epitaph : * Is it well with the child ? 
And she answered. It is well.' " And the sad pun 
was respected by his comrades ; and on the simple 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 231 

cross near Bastion Hill are cut the words, '* Is it 
well with the child? It is well." 

The Mounted Infantry held the hill till they 
were relieved. At the end of the day our infantry 
were lining a row of kopjes parallel with the Boer 
crests, but lower. A dip and a steep glacis, a 
thousand yards across, separated them from the 
Boers. Our loss in killed and wounded was some 
400 men. 

At dawn the next morning it was seen that in 
the night the Boers ^had abandoned a few trenches 
on their right Our men were in them like a flash ; 
and that was the last move we made forward till 
the capture of Spion Kop. We strained at the sky- 
line, but it was not to be ours. The fighting 
settled into its last stage of invisibility. Our men, 
as well as the Boers, were in the rocks. The glacis 
ahead was still impossible. The battle was only 
audible. The guns and the musketry took it in 
turns to play the first part As soon as the guns 
slackened their work, the snipping (for the shooting 
was all the premeditated shooting of marksmen) 
began from the Boer ridges. Up to a certain 
point of aggravation it was allowed to grow, and 
then from nearly all our batteries would come the 



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232 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

sudden bark of retaliation. Lyddite, fired from 
four howitzers with quite unexpected accuracy, 
knocked schantzes sideways. A Boer — on rare 
occasions two or three Boers — might be seen 
running away. But generally the lyddite and the 
shrapnel battened the enemy down in his works. 
He was quiet Then our guns would become 
quiet too, and no sooner did that happen than the 
Boer marksmen would pop up again. Ping, ping, 
ping! round the very gunners who had scarcely 
had time to settle themselves behind the smoking 
guns. Bullets that missed the ridges could do 
nothing but drop over into the plain ; the whole 
field was under fire. 

For a good part of two days I sat in the works 
on Three Tree Hill. Some signallers were at 
work there. One stood, at one time, outside the 
shelter of the breastworks with his flag in his hand. 
An excellent target, the Boers seemed to think. 
The singing of a bullet came more frequently over- 
head, one or two struck the ground near. '* Better 
mind where you stand," said another signaller. 
" I'm all right." And so you might have thought 
after you had seen the man stand exposed there 
for hours, but at last he had exhausted his chances 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 233 

and he fell. He was only hit in the foot, but he 
spun round before he fell. Another signaller at 
the end of his spell of signalling dashed off to join 
his regiment in the firing line. "Where am I 
going?" he said, "Going to give 'em a 'undred 
and fifty of the best That's for my pal who was 
killed at Willow Grange " — his friend, one of the 
West Yorks, had been killed on that infernal 
shoulder of Brynbella — ^ 'e would stay to 'ave a 
few more and then 'e got it in the 'ead." 

The work of the stretcher-bearers on all these 
days deserves a chorus to celebrate it An oddly 
assorted body of men, many of whom have come 
to the front expecting to perform ordinary labour 
for ordinary wages, find themselves drilled under 
an imperial officer and, at the command, flung 
into the firing line to pick up the wounded I The 
private soldier may be cool, but he could not be " 
cooler than "the body-snatcher," as the camp is 
pleased to call the bearer. I have seen one 
snatcher hurrying over the rocks in a pair of 
absurd canvas shoes, another in yawning boots 
and clothes that must have seen service in the 
streets of a town. Well, if the quality of heroism 
be measured by its unexpectedness, or the unsuit- 



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234 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

ability of the means, the essence of it is yours, 
body-snatchers! How many of you, I wonder, 
have had your own bodies snatched by the fate 
from which you went to rescue others ? A good 
many, I know, but people do not consult the 
casualty lists anxiously for your names. 

When fighting is after the manner I have 
described you can drift in and out of it imper- 
ceptibly. Only the piping song of a bullet tells 
you that you have come within the zone of fire ; 
you can no more see the enemy than you could 
when you stood on the quiet veldt miles away. 
This green hill is under fire, that green hill is 
not ; but both have the same innocent appearance, 
and perhaps the cattle are feeding on both. The 
stream of war has eddies ; and you may be carried 
in a few moments from the pitifullest scenes to a 
grove quiet and shady, where the yellow apricots 
hang like lamps under the trees, and where you 
are inclined to think that such a thing as war 
never happened. Even in the firing line the 
elements of battle may be found elusive. 

"What did you throw that stone at me for?" 
cried a soldier to a man next him on one of these 
days. 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 235 

" I didn't throw it," was the answer. 

"You did." 

" I didn't throw anything." 

"Liar!" 

The men were ready to fly at one another when 
— what was that on the khaki uniform of the 
first man, beginning to show through, red and 
sodden ? 

•* You're hit, man ! " said the other. 

And of course it was quite true. 

On the evening of Tuesday, January 23rd, it 
was clear that we could get no further with the 
frontal attack. Sir Charles Warren had all the 
time had Spion Kop, of which the general direc- 
tion is north and south, in his eye as likely to be 
useful. If we could get on to the southern crest 
of it we could probably push on to the northern 
end, and once there we could open a flanking 
fire on the Boer lines which ran east and west. 
Spion Kop, properly used, was the key of the 
position, and the key that would open the door 
of Ladysmith. Patrols had reported that there 
were only a few Boers on it Therefore Sir 
Charles Warren presented his scheme for 
capturing it, and it was accepted by Sir 



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236 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Redvers BuUer when it had been all but decided 
to bring the whole left wing back to Potgieter*s. 

Soon after dusk on Tuesday a party set out to 
make a night attack on the hill. These were 
Thomeycroft's Mounted Infantry, the Lancashire 
Fusiliers, the Lancaster Raiment, two companies 
of the South Lancashire Regiment, and a company 
of Engineers ; General Woodgate commander. 
It was a hand-and-knee march up the southern 
face — a climb over smooth rock and g^ass. It was 
necessarily slow ; it is to the great credit of the 
party that it was steady. The force was three- 
quarters of the way up before it was discovered. 
Then a Boer sentry challenged it for the pass- 
word. "Waterloo!" said an officer. The sentry 
turned to flee, but fell bayoneted where he turned. 

Thomeycroft's were on the left, the Lancashire 
Fusiliers on the right of the front line. "Fire 
and charge!" came the order. The Fusiliers 
went forward at the deliberate conventional trot ; 
Thomeycroft's, with the untrained, admirable 
enthusiasm of volunteers, rushed forward in a 
frenzy. Only a picket was behind the sentry, and 
it vanished. But the crest was not reached till 
dawn. Colley made scarcely a longer or steeper 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 237 

march up Majuba. When dawn came the party 
found that it was in the clouds. It could see 
nothing but the plateau — ^400 yards across — 
on which it stood. Trenches were made, but 
it was difficult to determine the right place 
for them. The Boers were invisible; our own 
troops below were invisible ; for three hours the 
party lived on a fog-bound island in the air. At 
last the mist lifted. 

The curtain rose upon the performance of a 
tragedy. The Boers — need I say on another ridge 
of Spion Kop? — b^an to fire heavily, and our 
men seemed to have no sufficient protection in 
the trenches. The space was small; they were 
crowded together. I will describe the scene as I 
saw it from below. I shall always have it in my 
memory — that acre of massacre, that complete 
shambles, at the top of a rich green gully with cool 
granite walls (a way fit to lead to heaven) which 
reached up the western flank of the mountain. To 
me it seemed that our men were all in a small 
square patch ; there were brown men and browner 
trenches, the whole like an over-ripe barley-field. 
As I looked soon after the mist had risen (it was 
nine o'clock, I think) I saw three shells strike a 



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238 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

certain trench within a minute ; each struck it full 
in the face, and the brown dust rose and drifted 
away with the white smoke. The trench was 
toothed against the sky like a saw — made, I sup- 
posed, pf sharp rocks built into a rampart Another 
shell struck it, and then — ^heavens I — ^the trench rose 
up and moved forward. The trench was men ; the 
teeth against the sky were men. They ran forward 
bending their bodies into a curve, as men do when 
they run under a heavy fire ; they looked like a 
cornfield with a heavy wind sweeping over it from 
behind. On the left front of the trenches they 
dropped into some grey rocks where they could 
fire. It is wonderful to see a man drop quickly for 
shelter when he has to ; his body might be made 
of paste, and for the first time in his life he can 
splash down in an amorphous heap behind a rock. 
Spout after spout of dust bounced up from the 
brown patch. So it would go on for perhaps half 
an hour, when the whole patch itself bristled up 
from flatness ; another lot of men was making for 
the rocks ahead. They flickered up, fleeted rapidly 
and silently across the sky, and flickered down into 
the rocks without the appearance of either a sub- 
stantial beginning or end to the movement The 
sight was as elusive as a shadow show. 



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"Bcf Pcsiton 




l\(HKiM SKETCH OF THE 
BATTLE Of SPION KOP 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 239 

The Boers had three guns playing like hoses on 
our men. On the west of the hill they were firing 
a Vickers-Maxim, in the middle a large Creusot 
gun, on the east of the hill another Vickers-Maxim. 
It was a triangular fire. Our men on Spion Kop 
had no gun. When on earth would the artil- 
lery come ? Guns were the only thing that could 
make the hill either tenable or useful. When on 
earth would they come? No sign of them yet, 
not even a sign of a mountain battery, and we who 
watched wriggled in our anxiety. The question 
now was whether enough men could live through 
the shelling till the guns came. 

Men must have felt that they had lived a long 
life under that fire by the end of the day, and still 
the guns had not come. From Three Tree Hill 
the gunners shelled the usual places, as well as 
the northern ridges of Spion Kop, where the Boer 
riflemen were supposed to be. Where the Boer 
guns were we did not know. If only they had 
offered a fine mark like our own guns we should 
have smashed them in five minutes. 

The Btitish gunner is proud of the perfect 
alignment and the regular intervals which his 
battery has observed under the heaviest fire; 



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240 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

the Boer gunner would be sorry to observe any 
line or any intervals. He will not have a gun 
in the open ; he is not proud, but he is safe. You 
might say that in this war the object of the Boer 
gunners is to kill an enemy who cannot see them ; 
that of the heroic British gunners is to be killed by 
an enemy whom they cannot see. The European 
notion of field guns is that they should be light 
enough to be moved about rapidly in battle and not 
hamper the speed of an army on the march. Now 
does it not appear that the Boers will change all 
that for us ? They have dragged heavy, long-range 
guns about with them and put them on the tops of 
steep hills, and we, of all people, know that they 
have not hampered the speed of their army. Some 
dunderhead, perhaps, proposed that such guns 
should be taken by the army into the field — some 
fellow who had never read a civilised book on 
gunnery. But how many fools in history have led 
the world? Let us make ourselves wise men by 
adding another to the list 

Reinforcements were ordered to Spion Kop. 
They were needed. The men on Spion Kop were 
crying out for theni. I could see men running to 
and fro on the top, ever hunted to a fresh shelter. 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 241 

Some Boer riflemen crept forward, and for a few 
minutes fifty Boers and British heaved and swayed 
hand to hand. They drew apart. The shelling 
did not cease. The hollow rapping of the Vickers- 
Maxims was a horrid sound ; the little shells 
from them flapped and clacked along the ground 
in a long, straight line like a string of geese. But 
the reinforcements were coming ; already a thin 
line corkscrewed up the southern slope of Spion 
Kop. Their bayonets reflected the sun. Mules 
were in the column with ammunition, screwing 
themselves upwards as lithe as monkeys. The 
Dorsets, Bethune's, the Middlesex, the Imperial 
Light Infantry — volunteers destined to receive a 
scalding baptism — ^were on the climb. 

From left to right of the field, too, from west to 
east, infantry moved. Hildyard's Brigade and the 
Somersets emerged from behind Three Tree Hill in 
open order, and moved towards the Boer line on the 
north and towards the west flank of Spion Kop. 
The Boers snipped into them. A man was down — 
a shot rabbit in the grass with his legs moving. 
The infantry went a little way further north and 
east, halted and watched Spion Kop the rest of 
the day. 
R 



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242 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

General Woodgate had been mortally wounded 
about ten o'clock in the morning ; the command 
came by a natural devolution to Colonel Thomey- 
croft, and this big» powerful man, certainly the 
best mark on the hill, moved about fearlessly 
all day and was untouched. The reinforcements 
poured up the steep path, which bent over sud- 
denly on to the plateau at the top. It was ten 
steps from shelter to death. The Scottish Fusi- 
liers came over the east side of the hill from 
Potgieter's. The men were packed on to the 
narrow table under the sky ; some were heard to 
say that they would willingly go forward or go 
back, but that they could not stay where they 
were. But no order was given to go forward It 
there were few orders it was because the officers 
had dwindled away. In the Lancashire Fusiliers 
only three officers were unwounded ; in Thomey- 
croffs eleven were hit out of eighteen. Of Thor- 
neycroft's men only about sixty came down 
unwounded out of 190. 

Late in the afternoon the 3rd Battalion of the 
King's Royal Rifles advanced up the eastern slope 
of Spion Kop from Potgieter's and seized two 
precipitous humps. The left half-battalion took 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 343 

the left hump, the right half the right hump. 
Never was anything more regular, and seldom 
more arduous. One hundred men were lost in the 
brief advance. I did not see it, and I am told I 
missed the most splendid thing that day. English 
people are fond of praising, with a paradoxical 
generosity, the deeds of Irish and Scottish regi- 
ments. Here is a case for praise, without affecta- 
tion, of an English regiment 

Night fell, and still no guns. The shell fire 
continued and the snipping. The Boers still had 
the range. At eight o'clock Colonel Thomeycroft 
decided to retire. We were to give up the key of 
the position and the key to Ladysmith — and no 
one will ever be able to find an)^ing but praise 
for what Colonel Thorneycroft did that day. He 
had been sitting on a target for thirteen hours, 
and now he was going. It was necessary. Some 
men had fought there for twenty-one hours with- 
out water. In England the ph}^ical proof of 
what that means is lacking. The mountain battery 
was already up ; two naval twelve-pounders were 
half-way up. But Thomeycroft was going now. 
It was necessary. 

When dawn came the officer in command of 



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244 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

the naval guns on Mount Alice looked through 
the long telescope. He looked long before he 
answered some one who asked how our men were 
on Spion Kop. "They are all Boers and Red 
Cross men there," he said. That was the first we, 
who had slept at Potgfieter's, knew of the retire- 
ment; it was the first the Headquarters Staif 
knew of it In a few hours Warren's force was 
coming back across the Tugela. "The way 
round" had failed. 

No, let me say one of the ways round had 
failed; another must be found. It seems now 
that wherever we go our way must be through 
hills; yet many more attempts must be made to 
overcome the heavy restrictions which modern 
warfare imposes upon a force attacking hills, 
many more sacrifices must be made to the 
inexorable before Ladysmith can be abandoned 
without disgrace. Sir Charles Warren made his 
retirement memorable for speed and orderliness. 
The last group was crossing the river early on 
Friday morning when a Boer shell plumped into 
the river. It was a signal of success, but Sir 
Redvers Buller, who stood by, would have watched 
anything else in the world with the same impas- 



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VENTER'S SPRUIT AND SPION KOP 245 

sivity. We had lost 1,500 odd men in the week's 
fighting. 

A doctor told me of the scene on Spion Kop on 
Thursday morning. A great proportion of the 
wounds had been made by shells, therefore they 
must not be described. A Boer doctor looked at 
the dead bodies of men and horses, the litter, the 
burnt g^ss where shells had set fire to it, at the 
whole sad and splendid scene where the finest 
infantry in the world had suffered, " No I " he said, 
with double truth, " we Boers would not, could not 
suffer like that" . 



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't 



CHAPTER XIII 
WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ, AND FAIL AGAIN. 

Springfield, Friday^ Februcay 9M, 1900. 

AGAIN the troops prepared for battle. For 
more than a week they had lived in tents, 
slept their fill, and tasted fresh meat It was now 
Sunday, February 4th, and all through the hot, 
slow, sleepy, silent afternoon two caterpillars of 
infantry, scarce distinguishable from the hillsides 
— two brigades they proved to be on a closer view 
— crawled along the line of the hills to the east 
of Spearman's Farm. 

Warren's operations west of Potgieter's Drift 
had failed: very well, that did not shut out 
success, and we would now try if we could not 
fit a key into those desperately locked hills some- 
where on the east. In that sleepful week just 
passed Sir Redvers Buller himself had said that 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ 247 

the key was found. None had it in his heart to 
doubt it Do not suppose that the troops thought 
of defeat ; the daily signals from Ladysmith were 
an intolerable incentive ; the sound of guns, and 
the knowledge that sickness struck its roots 
deeper every day into the splendid garrison 
smothered the memory of Colenso and Spion 
Kop. On Saturday night I had been at a concert 
given by the South African Light Horse in the 
flare of bonfires on the open veldt, and then 
Colonel Byng and " Bimbashi " Stewart had 
vowed in speeches that they would do their best 
to lead their men to Ladysmith, and the men 
had sworn that they had only to be led to follow. 
Not a man but felt, and feels, that Ladysmith 
must be helped ; its need overcomes all the con- 
siderations of modem warfare which forbid us to 
assault the hills of Northern Natal. You cannot 
see a man drown and refuse to help him ; or if 
you can you are not a soldier but one worthy of 
the censure of coroners. 

The brigades 01' Generals Hildyard and Hart 
were moving to our right They bivouacked in 
front of Swaart Kop, a dark wooded hill south 
of the Tugela and opposite Vaal Krantz. Vaal 



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248 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Krantz hill was at the east end of the main Boer 
position. It was there that the strength of the 
riflemen tailed off to its finish, and it was there 
that we hoped to open the door to Ladysmith. 

The ascent to Swaart Kop at the back is almost 
like a ladder placed against a house. Guns had 
been hauled up on to the plateau — sl pleasant 
grass plat, fit to play cricket on, placed, charac- 
teristically of South Africa, on precipitous walls. 
How the guns reached the top is the sailors' 
secret The naval gunners might be Boers for 
their skill in hauling guns on to half-impossible 
peaks. Mules rolled heels over head down that 
steep path, but the guns went steadily up drawn 
by steel ropes ; and when all were on the top I 
counted six naval twelve-pounders, a * battery of 
six mountain guns, and two field fifteen-pounders. 
Lieut Ogilvy, R.N., and Lieut James, R.N., had 
their guns behind the heavy screen of cactus and 
mimosa, but the stems of the trees had been cut 
almost through and when the guns were needed 
on Monday sudden vistas crashed into existence 
before the muzzles of the guns. 

The first gun was fired at seven o'clock on 
Monday morning. General Lyttelton's light 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ 249 

brigade had been withdrawn from the small 
kopjes just across the river near Potgieter's Drift 
and was replaced by the Lancashire brigade, now 
commanded by Colonel Wynne. General Talbot 
Coke's brigade was across the Tugela also in 
front of Mount Alice, except one regiment, the 
Imperial Light Infantry, which indifferently 
guarded the camp and w:atched the battle from 
the heights of Mount Alice. The plan was this. 
There was to be every appearance of a frontal 
attack on Brakfontein Hill opposite Mount Alice ; 
no less than six batteries were to move forward 
across the open ground ; but while the appearance 
of the attack was being sustained the batteries 
were to be withdrawn one by one and were to 
move to our right for the real attack on Vaal 
Krantz. 

While the intermittent bark of guns was rising 
to a cannonade there were Mounted Infantry 
behind Mount Alice still saddling up or moving 
off to our all-important right at the walk. You 
might expect the sound of guns, mounting to a 
climax, to sting every one into instant furious 
action. I have seldom seen Bnything that ap- 
peared so cool and slow as the squadrons walking 



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250 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

off behind Mount Alice. While the guns are 
booming can one ever come readily to believe 
how slowly battles develop? 

The river lies in the valley like the folds of a 
serpent General Lyttelton was now moving to 
our right — it was he who was to assault Vaal 
Krantz — ^and he had to cross the river twice. For 
his first crossing the bridge was made, for the 
second the bridge was in the making, and five 
sappers were wounded before that half-hour's job 
was finished. The whole army below me moved, 
stretching out its limbs like a huge waking beast 
General Hildyard and General Hart, who were 
to support the assault, were already crouched in 
potent waiting in front of Swaart Kop. 

Now the delusive infantry — ^the York and Lan- 
caster Regiment and the South Lancashires — 
were advancing in the open towards Brakfontein. 
Round the guns the long thin lines split and 
joined together again in front and went on. Here 
and there the lines were thick, where the men 
had not yet had room to extend. Officers 
blew their whistles and threw their arms apart 
and the knotted part of the line moved crabwise 
until the proper intervals were observed. And 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ 251 

so the two battalions moved on and then the guns 
moved on too ; and at last they moved on so far 
that the Boer gunners made up their minds that 
it really was an attack, or if not — and of course 
they are used to demonstrations — ^that at least it 
was something worth firing at 

The first line of the six batteries had been 
shelling everything that presented itself to the 
minds of the gunners. That is the way of 
feinters. The air was burdened with rushing 
and whistling sounds; here a vapour of brown 
dust floated along the hills where a shell had 
ploughed up the earth ; there a huge white 
Prince of Wales's feather of smoke sailed up from 
a farmhouse compound. Then, suddenly, a great 
pillar rose out in the solid earth in front of our 
guns, and the whine of the shell passing through 
the air rose up to Mount Alice long after the 
explosion was over. Rare occasion ! The fire of 
the Boers had been drawn when it was wanted. 

Moving off to our right as quickly as infantry 
can move was Lyttelton's column, with a gap in 
its back where it dropped down to the first 
pontoon bridge across the river. Now it was 
all-important that it should hurry on without 



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252 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

being noticed. Already the first battery of those 
before Brakfontein had come quietly away and 
was stealing along behind Lyttelton's infantry. 
It was after ten o'clock. 

I turned again to the batteries in action. 
Another pillar flew up from the earth. It was 
closer to the guns. One caught at one's breath, 
for the next shell surely must fall right on 
them. As for the guns themselves they barked 
more furiously than ever. Two and three shells 
at once sang and ground through the air, flashed 
into life out of invisibility on the opposite hills or 
tore through the red-brown earth of the trenches. 
A third pillar bounced up from the open ground. 
But this time it was behind our guns ; and the 
gunners were all the time bending over the guns, 
aiming, loading, firing, lifting things out of boxes, 
like busy waiters at a crowded supper. A three- 
inch Boer gun was firing from Spion Kop. And 
now there came from the east of Brakfontein the 
hateful hollow sound of the Vickers-Maxim — 
pom-pom-pom-pom-pom — and the little shells fell 
and spluttered along the ground in a string. 
They seemed to rake the whole line of the 78th 
Battery. Our howitzers behind the field g^ns 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ 253 

began to fire : out went the shell from the thick- 
necked barrel with little more than the sound of 
a rocket, and the twelve pounds of lyddite ex- 
ploded on the opposite ridge with a clap like 
thunder. A third gun opened on our batteries. 
At once little squirts of dust were threshed up all 
round the 78th Battery, just as when the first few 
drops of a heavy storm are flung upon a pond. 
Afterwards came the peculiar unmistakable wail. 
It was shrapnel. I saw the gunners through a 
drifting cloud. Again and again the shells fell 
before, behind, between, and to right and left of 
the guns. 

Presently a few gunners appeared more clearly. 
They were coming back. Three or four guns 
stood deserted. The rest were worked as busily as 
ever. Behind all the batteries, under the shelter of 
a slight ridge, horses and limbers were wheeling 
into a formation. They were going to bring home 
the guns. Forward they went, six teams in a perfect 
row, galloping towards the imperilled treasures in 
the open veldt Was there ever anything finer 
than British gunnery or so extravagantly 
dangerous ? 

I could see an officer at the guns waiting for the 



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254 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

rescue. He sat stock-still on his horse. His 
hand went continually up to his mouth and 
dropped away again. He might have been taking 
snuff or pulling his moustache. Perhaps it was 
the action of nervousness ; but nothing ever looked 
cooler. The six teams passed in front of the first 
row of guns, wheeled round like horses driven on the 
curve of a drive, and pulled up at the guns. Men 
were busily twitching and hauling at the couplings. 
Again the shrapnel dust flew up from the ground 
and a large shell fell between two teams. And 
then, after an aeon, as it seemed, the six teams 
galloped back with the six guns. A couple of 
officers were hit — ^the foot of one was gone — and a 
few horses and two or three men were wounded. 
You could scarcely believe that this miracle of 
immunity to the majority had happened. 

The first line of guns was back and under 
shelter. The shells began to fall among what had 
been the second line. The Boers, it seemed, would 
deal with everything in turn. But soon these guns 
too had been brought home and the batteries were 
safe ; the first had already trotted unostentatiously 
away to the right Only the turn of the infantry 
remained. 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ 255 

The two battalions might not have existed all 
this time ; they lay flat and were part of the 
veldt But now whistles blew and up they rose. 
Where there had been nothing there was now row 
upon row of dotted lines, black in the bright sun- 
light They moved away from Brakfontein, and 
on the signal a splutter of musketry burst forth 
from invisible riflemen and instantly swelled into 
a continuous roar. It came after a moment's 
silence, and was like the burst and swell of 
clapping hands in a theatre. The infantry, hunted 
home by bullets, came back ; the operation was 
over ; the casualties were barely fifty ; seldom was a 
feint more engrossing — to the enemy. 

I was on Swaart Kop when the bombardment of 
Vaal Krantz was at its highest Hildyard's and 
Hart's brigades lay below me ready for everything. 
Lyttelton's brigade was half across the newly- 
built bridge. The Durham Light Infantry lay 
under the sheer river bank on the other side. In a 
few minutes they were to advance north along the 
river to Vaal Krantz. The most easterly ridge of 
Vaal Krantz stood obscure in dust and smoke. 
Above all were the little white airy buttons of 
smoke from bursting shrapnel. Nothing, one 
thought, could live under that bombardment 



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256 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

The time was ripe. A handful of skirmishers 
from the Durhams climbed up the bank and ran 
into a mealie field, their bodies curved crescent- 
shape as they ran. They dropped among the 
mealies. All shot? No, there they were, firing. 
Up again in a minute, on they went Now some 
were out in the open beyond the mealie field. Two 
men collapsed behind ant-heaps ; then one rose up 
and ran back to the field. More men — ^a whole 
company — came out from the river bank. The 
first skirmishers made room for them by spreading 
out into the open to the right of the mealies. 
Down these men went behind ant-heaps. Surely 
that man there was hit ? No, he was firing again. 
Ah, but that other man had fallen limply 
right in the open. Now he was crawling on his 
belly to an ant-heap. He was wounded. 
Another man was helping him. From a cob-web 
of dongas below Doomkloof Mountain the Boers 
were sending in a harassing cross-fire ; also from a 
donga in front to the east of Vaal Krantz ; also 
from the walls round a homestead. Half a 
battalion was out from the river bank now, and 
the wounded were unmistakable where they lay. 
Major Johnson-Smyth was shot dead. 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ :2S7 

The mountain battery on Swaart Kop was firing 
into a donga at three thousand yards. Ridiculously 
disproportionate columns of white smoke curled 
up from the baby guns. The gunners, after the 
fashion of mountain gunners, knelt beside the 
kicking infants, the firer drew tight the lanyard and 
cut the side of his hand fiercely down upon it ; 
back flew the gun through the avenue of four 
kneeling men, tilted up on one wheel, threatening 
to overturn; and then the gunners slapped it 
back into equilibrium and its former position. 
Wherever the Boer fire was coming from, the rifle- 
men were invisible. But the tendency of the enemy 
was plain ; on the plateau behind his hills horse- 
men and waggons moved to the east The Boers 
meant to make themselves strong on Doomkloof. 
If they succeeded they would send every sort of 
fire on our right flank. And how could we stop 
it ? Only by storming the mountain and suffering 
a horrible loss that would bear no relation to. the 
achievement 

The Boers did succeed. 

Vaal Krantz was a profitless capture. First, it 
stood in front of the main line of Boer hills and so 
did not enable us to open a flanking fire at all — a 
S 



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258 THE RELlEI^ 01^ LADYSMITH 

fact which might have been discovered long before 
from any reputable survey-map had one existed ; 
secondly, it was soon flanked itself from Doom- 
kloof. 

On Swaart Kop it was necessary to stand close 
by the guns to see through the vistas in the bushes. 
The noise was deafening. At one's ear was the 
voice of the artillery oflicer : " Number two gun — 
fire!" "Number three gun — fire!" "Number 
four gun — fire!" From the map of country 
stretched below there floated up the voice of the 
infantry oflicer, "Fire!" Cr — r — r — ^r — r — ^mp! 
The infantrymen lying on their stomachs on this 
side of the river had fired a volley. Tat — ^tat — ^tat 
— tat — ^tat — tat — tat ! four Maxims were stuttering 
at once, and their utterance was punctuated with 
the heavier, slower tapping of the Colt guns. The 
Durhams were already on the lower slopes of 
Vaal Krantz; the Rifle Brigade strained at their 
heels ; the infantry multiplied behind ; the mealie 
fields filled with brown figures ; a man lay behind 
every ant-heap; the bearers and the doctors 
stooped over limp, huddled figures. 

It was about three o'clock when a Boer gun 
dashed out from behind Vaal Krantz towards 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ ^59 

Doomkloof. It was drawn by six horses, an 
officer rode in front, another behind. There was 
no guard. Never before was a Boer gun exposed 
in the open like this ! Every eye seized it, every 
gun turned upon it ; the hunting field never heard 
such an outcry. The gun could easily have been 
taken in safety further behind Vaal Krantz, but the 
gunners wanted to reach a particular green kopje 
nearer our infantry. They risked it, and dashed 
for it 

It was magnificent I A single horse down and 
the whole equipage must have been smashed into 
a dust-heap. Three shells fell at once near the 
gun. It bounced on at the gallop like a sledge 
over the rough ground. The shells crept nearer 
to it One more shell and the gun would be no 
more — or so we thought, and the thought was 
hardly there when the shells fell wide. A donga 
lay in front of the gun ; it was making for that 
In twenty seconds it would be there. It reached 
the edge of the donga ; it was checked and stood 
still while the horses pawed their way down the 
rough dip. Now for it I One more chance ! One 
more shell ! The earth and smoke flew up ; the 
shell was wide. The gun had disappeared. It 



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a6o THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

had gone to earth. It deserved to be there. I 
found that I was breathless. 

A few minutes before four o'clock Vaal Krantz 
was ours. The first man had reached the top, he 
was walking cautiously across it, and, as he looked 
about him, his bayonet flickered like a fire-fly. 
Soon the brigade was resting on the side of the 
hill. But all the hill was under fire from west and 
north and east To the west at least the Boer 
riflemen must be driven back along the ridges. 

A battery of horse artillery whirled across the 
open from below Swaart Kop. Field artillery 
goes in a fine tumult, and has many adventitious 
aids to an exhilarating clatter. At the gallop the 
gunners on the carriage cling like limpets. But 
for sheer speed you must see horse artillery ; every 
horse is ridden and spurred, the dangling gun with 
nobody on it to hold on for his life, bangs and 
leaps over the ground. Horse artillery is a whirl- 
wind. This battery that galloped across to the 
river west of Vaal Krantz, wheeled twice as it 
went, swooping to its position with the eye of a 
bird. It was just as when gulls swing together in 
the air : first you have the paper-edge of the wing, 
then a twinkle in the air, and out of exiguity sails 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ 261 

the broadside of the whole line. The horse 
battery shelled the ridges sedulously, and the 
Durhams advanced perhaps half a mile along the 
hog's-back of the captured kopje. Night fell. The 
sound of musketry had not died at nine o'clock. 

On Tuesday morning Vaal Krantz appeared 
seamed with trenches. Shells came with the 
dawn. The brigade was protected by all the 
means that mind and limb had been able to devise 
and build during the night. But the " pom-pom " 
shells strung along the flat top of the hill. Perhaps 
they did little harm, and they are very small, but 
that long, grasping flutter of grey smoke is most 
horrible to see. Now, could we hold this hill, or 
was it to be another Spion Kop? All day the 
sound of musketry played in significant cadences ; 
shells fell visibly among our trenches, and our 
gunners, heroically exposed in the open but ignored 
in favour of better prey, bombarded invisible 
guns. 

A pontoon bridge was thrown across the Tugela 
at the foot of Vaal Krantz. It was well enough 
for the infantry to dash across, but how could the 
cumbersome transport of our army move across 
that open land while the guns on Doornkloof were 



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262 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

not silenced ? And if they could not, how should 
our capture serve any good purpose ? 

About four o'clock on Tuesday afternoon the 
Boers attacked our front trenches from the west 
A heavy burst of rifle fire, and our surprised 
infantry were tumbling back along the ridge. A 
couple of hundred yards back they stopped, rallied, 
and faced the enemy ; hundreds of heads bobbed 
up where the bullets were topping the curve of the 
hill ; the 6oth Rifles were going to the rescue. 

Again the fire-flies glimmered along the top of 
the hill; they stopped; the sound of musketry 
grew ; they were up again and flitting on ; finally 
they flashed straight and full and strong at the 
trenches, and the old positions were ours again. 
It was all over in less than an hour. We had 
beaten ofl* an attack, but still we had made no 
advance. At dusk General Hildyard's brigade 
relieved General Lyttelton's. 

On Wednesday morning Vaal Krantz appeared 
ribbed and slashed with even more trenches ; 
traverses and headcovers had been built in the 
night General Hildyard and Prince Christian 
Victor had not slept Now should we hold the 
place ? 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ 263 

A large Creusot gun on the top of Doornkloof 
was dropping 100 lb. shells here and there all over 
the field with graceful impartiality. One fell 
among the waiting infantry in front of Swaart Kop. 
** Scatter I " cried an officer, and soon all the batta- 
lions were hiding in the rich wood which clothes 
the side of Swaart Kop. One fell among the 
Mounted Infantry, and men and horses drew 
behind a hump of ground. One fell near the 
balloon which was leaping to escape the hands of 
the balloon section. One fell among the artillery 
horses which were grouped away behind the guns ; 
the smoke cleared, and, behold, the horses stood 
unmoved and only a Kaffir driver and a bullock 
lay on the ground. A quarter of an hour later a 
happy opportunist passed me on the slope of 
Swaart Kop with a rib of beef in his hands. 

Twenty guns were firing at the hundred-pounder. 
It used black powder, and the shaft of white smoke 
that it belched up out of its mouth would not have 
done discredit to the whole of our mountain 
battery. The ground near it smoked like a lime 
kiln from our shells, but the gun itself smoked 
away too, with no hitch in its regularity. " There 
it is ; it's up again I " was the cry, for the gun was 



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264 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

on a disappearing carriage. Its barrel, plain 
against the sky, vacillated till it settled on its 
object "Ifs pointing this way!" The white 
cloud spouted forth. Those who liked lay behind 
rocks, but in any case in the quarter of a minute 
during which you waited for the shell were some 
of the strangest moments of anticipation in a man's 
life. The gun rose from its den, pointed, fired, and 
disappeared in twelve seconds. Our shells from 
the nearest guns took eighteen seconds to reach it, 
so that they were always six seconds too late. 
Night fell, and still no advance had been made. 
Our casualties in the three days' fighting were 
nearly 400. 

That night several corps of Mounted Infantry 
and some guns passed my tent on the road to 
Spearman's Farm. " A reconnaissance," some one 
said, ''to see if the Boers are still holding their 
right." But I woke in the night, and the tramp- 
ing and grinding were still on the road. Day and 
the truth dawned together. We were retiring. 
And where lay the fault ? Not with the infantry 
— they will go anywhere with a cheer; scarcely 
with Sir Redvers Buller who was severe with him- 
self and honest with the army and the nation when 



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WE ATTACK VAAL KRANTZ 265 

he gave the order. The fault of this and of all 
other battles was the cumbrous nature of our 
transport How should it be otherwise than that 
jam and pickles should be at a disadvantage 
against biltong? 



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CHAPTER XIV 

THE "FIGHTING MARCH* ON MONTE 
CHRISTO 

COLENSO, Thursday^ February 22nd^ 1900. 

SUCCESS is comparatively dull. Here were 
we making a fighting march along the range 
of Monte Christo, flanking the enemy, taking him 
at a complete tactical disadvantage, making his 
whole line bulge and crumple because we were 
pushing hard on it at one end, and yet there was 
never a moment when one was thrilled as by the 
impotent heroism of Colenso, Spion Kop, or 
Vaal Krantz. Your own successes in war may be 
dull to watch ; it is not dull indeed to your heart, 
but warming and genial, if your heart has been 
frozen, and sickened with failure. The fighting 
march, as I may call the battle of Monte Christo, 

was dull to see because it was gradual, the events 

266 



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THE "FIGHTING MARCH" 267 

of a day seemed trifling, and the fighting was 
more than half invisible. But the accumulated 
events made it the best achievement so far of Sir 
Redvers BuUer's column. 

And what a pleasant irony was success here and 
now! A month before we had left this place — 
these close-tangled, knotted hills — to find a way 
round. We were back here with our knowledge 
of geography strengthened. There was no way 
round. These hills from Colenso westwards are 
a spur of the Drakensberg mountains. East ot 
Colenso the country, if dissimilar, is no better. 
What then was to be done? 

The honourable obligations under which we 
were laid to help Ladysmith were not dissipated 
in proportion as the military enormity of attacking 
these hills became clearer. Quite the reverse. 
What on earth, then, was to be done ? We had 
seen the outlying camps round Ladysmith; we 
had been in frequent communication with the 
garrison ; we had read their tales of bad water, of 
horse and mule to eat, and of the ever-growing 
sickness ; we could never forget the laconic 
splendid message as far back as January 6th : 
" Hard pressed." 



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268 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Reason said, nevertheless, " Leave these hills ; 
do not fight for 8,000 men when you will lose 
more in saving them. Do not make sentiment 
superior to expediency. Scatter your forces no 
longer. Concentrate a great army in the Free 
State, and go forward with all the strength of 
military wisdom at your back." Reason said all 
this ; but reason is less than impulse, or conscience, 
or faith, or hope, or charity, or, perhaps, even than 
madness. 

No, no — none could think, after all, of sacrificing 
Ladysmith. How, then, was Ladysmith to be 
helped? I imagine that in this quandary Sir 
Redvers Buller argued thus; "There is no way 
round. Very well ; it matters little where I 
try to push through. All places are equally bad ; 
all attempts are equally desperate. In these 
circumstances, the best thing to do is to reduce 
my line of communication as much as possible. If 
I am forced to retreat, as I very well may be, 
I shall then have no difficulty that is purely 
unnecessary. In short I must return to the 
railway." At least the decision fits the argument 
Back to Chieveley the relief column came. The 
13th and 14th Hussars, the Royals, the York and 



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THE "FIGHTING MARCH" 269 

Lancaster Raiment and the Lancashire Fusiliers 
were detailed to watch our left at Springfield. 

The army shot an arrow, so to speak, on to 
Hussar Hill. This place was to be ours, and then 
become the starting-point of new operations. 
It was called Hussar Hill because a few Hussars 
had been cut off there and killed while recon- 
noitring. It is necessary to describe the position. 
The hills at the back of Colenso — of which 
Grobler's Kloof is one — run roughly east and west 
East of Grobler's Kloof a range falls away to the 
south at right angles to the hills behind Colenso. 
This range is on the south side of the Tugela, and 
Hlangwana and the hills called Monte Christo and 
Cingolo are part of it. Now the long low ridge of 
which Hussar Hill is part lies in the angle made by 
the Grobler's Kloof range and the Monte Christo 
range. The ridge runs parallel with the Monte 
Christo range, and is divided from it by a shallow 
valley ; in other words it lies roughly north and 
south. The scheme was to take Hussar Hill, or 
to avoid confusion, I will say the long Hussar 
ridge, cross the shallow valley, march up Cingolo, 
and then move along the line of the range on 
to the enemy's flank. 



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270 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

On Monday, February 12th, some mounted 
infantry visited Hussar Hill, to find out more 
accurately what sort of place it was. The Boers 
were in the habit of visiting it every day. On 
this day they let the mounted infantry walk about 
on it while they themselves lay in a donga near by. 
Some infantry and field guns had come out with 
the mounted infantry, but seeing their comrades 
safely on to the place where they would be, they 
went home. At last the mounted infantry started 
for home too. Then the Boers rushed from the 
donga, boldly lined the top of the hill, and fired 
luxuriously into the departing force. The mounted 
infantry arranged their retirement judiciously — in 
succession of squadrons. Sir Bryan Leighton's 
squadron came last, accompanied by some Colt 
guns on Lord Dundonald's galloping carriages. 
The force came away with about a dozen casu- 
alties. Mr. Jack Churchill was hit in the leg. 
He had just arrived from England, and this was 
the first day's fighting he had seen. It seemed as 
though he had paid his brother's debts. 

On Wednesday, February 14th, Lord Dundonald 
marched out early to Hussar Hill. A battery of 
Field Artillery, and the Irish Fusiliers followed 



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THE "FIGHTING MARCH'* 271 

him. The Boers raced him for the hill. He won 
by about five minutes. The Boers were three- 
quarters of the way through the donga which runs 
from Hussar Hill to Hlangwana — a scraggy water- 
track, with a thick stem and arms struck out on 
either side, like a ruined feather. From this they 
fired on to the hill, and we ground back our answer 
from the Colt machines and tossed shrapnel down 
on the places where the gunners thought the Boers 
were likely to be. Hussar Hill was ours. Now to 
bring up the army. 

For three days the hill was like a standing fly- 
wheel which winds everything up to it The chief 
need was water, and to get water we must spread 
out All Thursday and Friday we were edging 
crabwise along the ridge south-eastwards ; little 
white bursting globes of smoke went first, probing 
the bush, teaching us the way ; the mounted 
infantry came next, and the whole column was 
beckoned on, as by the white arms of a siren, by 
the silver band which was curved in the valley at 
the end of the ridge. That was the Blaauwkrantz ; 
that was water. 

It was slow work moving. The troops lay about 
for the greater part of the day, and craved water 



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272 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

The sun was uncovered ; the heat was mordant 
" We are just laying and drying up," I heard a 
soldier say in a phrase, I thought, of unapproach- 
able descriptive quality. Meanwhile the Boers 
sat among the mimosas and in their elaborate 
sand-bagged trenches on Hlangwana, and on all 
the range between there and Monte Christo. On 
Hussar Hill we had, besides field guns, four naval 
twelve-pounders, two five-inch garrison guns, and 
a battery of howitzers. And the Boers shelled us 
with an invisible three-inch gun. No place on the 
hill was sheltered. The Boers must have been 
bewildered by the very number of targets. Some- 
times they fired at the guns for a few minutes, then 
they would change to a group of battery horses, 
then to a filing line of infantry, then to a transport 
train. And we ! Why, on those rare occasions 
when we see a gun or a few Boers we are only for 
the moment relieved from the constant puzzle of 
having nothing to fire at 

On Saturday, February 17th, our bombardment 
waxed to a higher power. The naval gunners on 
Hussar Hill were splendidly protected by sand- 
bag works, and though they were shelled with 
precision lost no men. With one of the five-inch 



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THE "FIGHTING MARCH" 273 

garrison guns it was otherwise. They were not 
protected. Why not protected ? " It's not our 
way," the army gunner says. Major Caldwell sat 
in a deck chair near the five-inch guns — the type 
of the cool, scornful British artillery officer — and 
kept saying, " Number one gun, fire." " Number 
two gun, fire ! " while I talked with him about the 
battle of Domokos, which we had seen tc^ether in 
Greece. Earlier in the morning a shrapnel had 
burst among the detachments of one of these guns 
while they were staking out the gun, and of 
the six men not one escaped. One was killed, 
five were wounded. Our field guns were now on 
the east side of the Hussar ridge, hidden among 
the thorn bushes, poking their noses across the 
valley at the parallel range. The howitzers from 
behind the narrow ridge flung up their charges of 
lyddite. What a dull pursuit is that of the 
howitzer gunner, who has nothing but the blank 
side of a hill and a few sticks for his direction in 
front of him, and must fire all day as he is told, 
and see nothing for his pains. 

From Monte Christo a buttress or spur runs out; 
it is a hill of smooth sides (when you see them 
from a distance) and rich green grass. Green Hill 
T 



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374 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

it was named at once. Red dashes, when trenches 
had been cut into the red earth, were the linea- 
ments of its smooth face. Under one's gaze the 
unwrinkled face grew disfigured and pock-marked 
with the bursting shells. Soon one end was alight, 
and the grass fire steadily ate its way forward 
under a constant breeze. But all this day never 
a Boer stirred on Green Hill that I could see. 

That morning three brigades were at the foot of 
the Monte Christo range, already hidden in the 
thick thorn bushes that drape the hills. General 
Barton, with the Fusilier brigade, was on the 
left ; Colonel Norcott, with the light brigade, in 
the middle; General Hildyard and the English 
brigade on the right. The South Lancashires 
and the Lancaster Regiment were on watch 
west of Hussar Hill. The Middlesex, Dorsets, 
and Somerset Light Infantry lined the Hussar 
ridge, and looked across the valley to Monte 
Christo. The three attacking brigades — Barton's, 
Norcott's, and Hildyard's — were right away south, 
in the mouth of the valley — far south of all the 
Boer entrenchments. They were to bore up the 
side of the hills as they marched, and by the time 
General Hildyard was on the sky-line the Boer 



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THE "FIGHTING MARCH" 375 

position would be outflanked. A long march is 
the price of a flanking success against a mobile 
enemy. 

The brigades disappeared in the bushes ; you 
could follow their progress only by finding a few 
men where the bushes opened or by the advance 
of the rattling. The Boers were probably firing 
from the bushes on Monte Christo. 

It would be tedious, if it were possible, to 
describe all the details of this fighting march. 
The Welsh and Irish Fusiliers appeared at last 
in open mealie fields below Green Hill — first a 
handful and then whole companies running, 
scattered about, their bodies bent forward, falling 
down — ^hit? No, up again! — and so on, and on, 
and on, dropping and bobbing up again, while the 
Boer fire grew stronger and stronger. It had 
been swamped by our artillery, but now, as the 
gun fire slackened in front of our men, it grew 
and flourished, and spread even to Green Hill, 
on which (you could have sworn) there was not a 
living soul an hour before. And now the Fusiliers 
were coming back, and the Rifle Brigade and the 
Durhams and the Scottish Rifles and the 60th 
on the slopes of Cingolo, were trailing back too ! 



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r]t THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

A reverse ? No, it was only that General Hildyard 
was already on the top of Cingolo marching 
towards Monte Christo, and it was useless to press 
the untactical attacks below. Night fell. The 
Queen's, of Hildyard's Brigade, and some mounted 
infantry were already on the dip, or neck, which 
joins Cingolo to Monte Christo. They were black 
against the sky. 

On Sunday morning the bombardment of Green 
Hill b^an all over again. On went the three 
brigades, marching and fighting blindly. The 
Fusiliers were at a higher level than yesterday. 
Green Hill was shelled till you would have thought 
it shaken to its base. Not a Boer stirred on it. In 
the bush north of it the Boer riflemen were still 
firing, but not strongly. They were meditating 
retreat ; they were plainly fighting a rear-guard 
action. And now it was one o'clock, and the 
ensign of success appeared above the crest of 
Monte Christo. It was the first line of the 
Queen's. 

The regiment had had to fight hard this morning 
along the neck and on the east side of Monte 
Christo. But here were the skirmishers. The 
Boers saw them, you may believe, sooner than 



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THE "FIGHTING MARCH*' 277 

any one did on our side. The Boer firing dwindled 
more. Of what use were their trenches on the 
face of Green Hill now, built tier upon tier, and 
reaching back from one position to another, all 
built against a frontal attack with an unassailable 
conviction of the stupidity of the British army ? 
The Queen's skirmishers ran out from the bush on 
the crest of Monte Christo on to a patch of 
open grass. A wisp of smoke blew out in the 
air below them. Shrapnel was creeping up the 
hill. Now it came higher. A third — ^it was right 
over the men, — and the dust danced on the ground. 
The men snatched up stones lying about them, 
and in a moment they were lying behind miserably 
insignificant ramparts. Another shrapnel puffed 
into white smoke overhead. A man darted up, 
ran a little way, picked up another stone, ran back, 
and threw it on to his rampart ; then he ran off a 
little further, picked up another stone and came 
back with it and threw that, too, on his rampart. 
So he worked feverishly, running each time a little 
further afield, and for ever stooping and turning 
and straightening. He was for all the world like 
a man in a potato race. And whenever he thought 
it was time for the next shell he would lie quite 
flat behind his stones. 



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278 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Pom^ pcm^ pont^ pom-pom ! For the first time 
that day we heard the hated Vickers-Maxim. 
The stringing grey smoke fluttered along the little 
works which offered a perfect line on the open 
grass. When you have seen a thing like that you 
know why a Boer general called the British army 
the bravest and the stupidest in the world. Again 
the chain of shells came ; more links were in 
it. The men ran back to the bushes. It was time. 
Could they hold the hill? Yes — reinforcements 
were working their way up — every minute the sky- 
line was more thickly toothed with them. Already 
below the Irish Fusiliers were climbing Green 
Hill. The Scots Fusiliers were behind them — 
their pipes played them up; and an officer led 
his horse, and a mule with ammunition was coming 
too — there is not much rifle fire where horses and 
mules can be taken — all marching up the scarred 
and pock-marked side of the hill. Then up went 
a cheer, which some of the Middlesex and Dorsets 
answered across the valley. Green Hill was ours. 
Monte Christo was ours. The Boers were re- 
treating. They had been fighting a rear-guard 
action only. " Huts toe^ huts toe'' ! "home, home ! " 

It was time. They were tricked out of their 



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THE "FIGHTING MARCH" 279 

position in this instance. They went, nor stopped 
till they had crossed the river. And our loss was 
only 179. Our men were among the abandoned 
tents. Gaunt ponies, reins, saddles, Mauser cart- 
ridges, "pom-pom" shells, flour, biltong, Dutch 
Bibles were theirs for the taking. The valley was 
filled with the clatter of our field guns rushing for 
new positions. Would the Boers fight a rear- 
guard action all the way to Ladysmith ; or had 
they another strong position across the river ? 
High spirits assured us of the former. But never 
mind to-morrow. To-day is ours ; we have 
marched round the gospel of mobility. 



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CHAPTER XV 

THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 

COLENSO, Monday^ February zttky 1900. 

MONTE CHRISTO commands Hlangwana 
Hill; Hlangwana commands the kopjes 
on the north bank of the Tugela at Colenso. 
Here is a sort of perfect military syllogism. 
When the Boers saw that we had captured the 
first, they were logical enough not to dispute the 
second and the third. They abandoned them. 
Hlangwana was certainly worth occupying, because 
it offered first-rate gun positions. The Colenso 
kopjes had next to be considered. Were they 
worth occupying? They offered no useful gun 
positions, and they lay out of our obvious line of 
march along the hills. Need they be occupied for 
our own security? Back to the logic, and see that 
the Boers thought them untenable. Why, then, 

j8o 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 281 

fortify them against attack when the Boers thought 
them not even worth defence? Now for the illogical 
fact. We occupied them. They lie below the 
great green-backed monster, Grobler's Kloof Hill. 
They are commanded by it After occupying 
Hlangwana the army screwed sharp round the 
northern slopes of it to the west and dropped 
downwards to the river (which here flows from 
south to north) and the insignificant kopjes on the 
other side. It entered a shell-trap. We seemed 
to be loth to forsake our habit of looking heaven- 
wards for the Boers. 

On the evening 6f Monday, February 19th, two 
companies of the Rifle Composite Battalion, 
under Major Stuart-Wortley, entered Colenso, 
and slept there. The next morning they made 
room for General Hart's brigade, which sat in the 
village and was sniped by some Boers fearfully 
remaining in the kopjes just across the river. 
Then Thomeycroft's mounted infantry crossed the 
river, took the kopjes easily enough, and in the 
evening Colenso station was puffing with trains 
once again. All Tuesday and Wednesday the 
rival armies bandied shells, as it were, backwards 
and forwards across the river. Our transport 



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282 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

was being brought forward and clustered about 
HIangwana. Imagine yourself seated on a com- 
manding kopje somewhere on the field of battle 
on this or on any similar day of desultory fighting, 
and you are at once the overhearer of the following 
conversation : — 

Scene : — Two or three correspondents, some 
signalmen with heliographs and flags, and some 
officers and men, whose battalion is posted in 
reserve near by, are watching the fighting from 
the commanding kopje. The Boers are dis- 
tributing shells impartially amongst our amply 
conspicuous battalions and transport The shells 
whizz overhead. The men sit behind rocks, but 
keep rearing themselves up to get a better view. 
Our guns incessantly bombard hills where the 
enemy is invisible. A correspondent climbs to 
the top of the kopje and sits on the sky-line 
sketching the position. He lights a cigarette, not 
without conscious eflrontery. 

An Officer. I don't believe there are any Boers 
there. 

Another Officer. I don't either. Wish they'd 
let us go forward. I'm sick of this sitting about. 

1st Private Soldier. Here's one coming ! {A 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 283 

shell sings overhead. The men all duck behind 
rocks. Tfie shell had passed already ^ but no matter. 
These men would walk through the smoke of a 
bursting shell in an attack -without blinking. But 
a shell in unprofessional moments is another matter. 
Stilly they mind shells so little that you wottder 
why they invariably duck their heads. Three men 
walking on road behind kopje fall flat. The shell 
has already burst near a mule train four hundred 
vards away. The sound sings on as though the 
shell were still in the air. All the men behind the 
rocks bob up^ and the three men on the road pick 
themselves upy roaring with laughter^ - 

All. There it is ! {Every one looks where the 
shell has burst). 

2nd Private Soldier. They can't shoot for nuts ! 

\st PS. Can't they! That's all! You 
should jest 'ave seen 

3^/ P.S. {with superior knowledge). But they 
aren't Boers' what's firing. They're Frenchmen 
and Germans. 

2nd P.S. And Irish. You might say we ain't 
fighting the Boers at all. We're fighting the 'ole 
world. {A salvo is fired from our howitzers.) 

1st P.S. My word! Ain't we giving 'em 



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284 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

socks up there! I should think they're getting 
pretty well fed up with them things. 

Several Voices. 'Ere's another ! {A shell sings 
overhead and plumps down among some waggons. 
Nearly all the men stand up to see what has 
happened^ 

Officer, Keep your heads down there ! 

\st PS. Do you think they'll give us a bit 
'ere? 

2nd PS. You wait! 

yrd P.S. We must 'ave silenced most of their 
guns by now. 

2nd PS. We've blown two of 'em right up in 
the air to-day. 

Srd P.S. Ah ! Perhaps they won't be able to 
fire any more soon. 

1st P.S. The Boers is getting more dis'eartened 
every day. There's 'undreds deserting and going 
to their 'omes. Why, they've got nothing to eat, 
only mealies and little bits of dried-up beef! 

^rd P.S. 'Ow do you know ? 

1st P.S. I read it in the papers. 

An Officer. Keep down there! {The sound of 
a Boer shell enforces the command^ 

A Colonial Waggon-driver. I always said they 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 285 

were cowards — the Boers. You see — one beating 
and the/U all clear. They can't stand up. Why 
don't they come out and fight? They daren't 
come into the open. 

A Correspondent, They seem to manage it 
pretty well as it is. 

The Colonial, I've lived here ten years and I 
know the Boers, and I tell you they're cowards. 

Correspondent. All right! {Our bombardment 
grows in strength^ 

1st P.S. They must 'ave lost terrible 'eavy 
to-day. 

2nd PS. You bet they 'ave. They say the 
effects of lyddite is 'orriblc. 

An Officer. Why the deuce do the gunners 
keep on firing at the side of that hill ? You can 
see there isn't anybody there. 

Another Officer. They like firing at South 
Africa. {A party of infantry reconnoitres up to base 
of hills at which gunners are firing. Sound oj 
musketry pops out. It swells to a heavy rattle. 
Reconnoitrers are seen falling back under hot fire. 
Nightfalls.) 

I imagine that Sir Redvers BuUer's reason for 
leaving the hills, turning west, and crossing the 



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286 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

river near Colenso was that he thought it would 
be more difficult to bridge the river elsewhere. 
On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 21st, 
the pontoons were floated on the river, swung 
nose to stream, jerked and strained at their 
moorings, and were stationary at regular intervals 
like a line of deployed infantry. The planks were 
laid across and the infantry began to walk over. 
The Somersets and Middlesex — of General Talbot 
Coke's brigade — and the Lancaster Regiment were 
the first over. Once again we had crossed the 
Tugela. 

Already it was evening. The battalions marched 
up to the slopes of Grobler's Kloof Hill, partly 
to reconnoitre, partly to attract the enemy's 
attention while the rest of the army filled the low 
land about the river. They did not advance far, 
but the bullets spat among them. Some field 
guns were hurried across the bridge ; the limbers 
seemed to fall in halves, the horses drew back, 
and in a moment there were six guns squatting 
in a row and pointing their noses up in the air. 
Shrapnel spattered among the bushes which cling 
to the side of Grobler's. The Boers must have 
been there, but we could see no one. When dark 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 287 

came the Somersets alone had lost nearly a hun- 
dred men. A pretty rear-guard action on the part 
of the Boers certainly ! 

Thursday was the ninth day of the fighting 
and the first serious day in the shell-trap. Two 
naval guns and a battery of howitzers were placed 
on a neck which joined the two kopjes just across 
the pontoon bridge. A howitzer fired and waited. 
The answer came. A shell buzzed down some- 
where from the skies, and a geyser shot up in 
front of the battery. All our guns leaped to the 
rescue and fumed back. It was a comprehen- 
sive bombardment when we prepared to attack 
the kopjes on our front which were not yet ours 
and probed the recesses of Grobler's on our left 
flank. It is said that we silenced some Boer guns. 
That means that the Boer gunners walked away 
from their guns for a time when the ground b^an 
to rock under their feet ; but the guns were not 
hurt, and their tongues were loosed again soon 
enough. At 1.30 p.m. the infantry stirred on their 
kopjes, stood up, twinkled into formations, and 
faced their front Lines drew across the kopjes, 
and edged more and more across till they were 
perfectly deployed. Then they started over a 



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388 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

broken sea of country. It was like all advances 
of British infantry, steady and unquestioning. I 
remember one deep trough in this frozen sea, 
where the shells fell again and again. The road 
lay through it, and guns and ammunition trains 
must all pass that way. The shells seemed to 
come regularly, and you could almost calculate 
where the moving column would be punctuated 
with death. Once an officer riding a horse was 
on the spot when the shell came. The ground 
sprang up round him. It was shrapnel this time. 
He had been cantering. 

Now he stopped, soothed his horse in the dust, 
and then no longer cantered but walked with 
measured dignity, for his men marched behind 
him. The South Lancashires were in the firing 
line, then came the Lancasters, the 3rd 60th 
Rifles, and the Rifle Composite Battalion; and 
Coke's and Hildyard's brigades — indeed all the 
infantry, were couched in readiness behind, 
straining to be forward. On pitched the 
skirmishing lines up and down over the rugged 
sea of kopjes, now hidden in troughs now rising 
on crests. It was useless to count the waves. 
The last one reached was a long green-back, a 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 289 

mile lonp^, which rolled and tumbled in smaller 
fragments up to the base of the high hills. The 
infantry lay down on the back of this hill, and you 
would have said that they had perfect cover; 
holding parties had been shed on the kopjes along 
all the line of the advance. The Boers wait till 
you think it is all over and then they begin. 
Some of their riflemen must have crept round the 
west shoulder of the long-backed kopje on the 
back of which our men were lying, for the bullet- 
driven dust jumped about them where they lay. 
The men could not lie flat enough to the hill. 
They laid their heads behind insignificant stones. 
What an irony in this rock-strewn country! 

Where was the fire coming from ? Most of it 
probably from the high slopes of Grobler's, which 
now lay all along our left flank ; and accordingly 
the fifteen-pounders drubbed and flayed the bushes 
with shrapnel. On air the kopjes we were losing 
men. The East Surreys were ordered forward to 
reinforce the 60th Rifles, and they helped them 
with such spirit to maintain the passive strife — the 
business, you might say, of using the flesh of men 
to resist the bullets of the enemy — that they were 
praised afterwards by the general and thanked by 
U 



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290 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

the 6oth Rifles. In the night the Boers moved 
their guns about near the clouds, and on Friday, 
February 23rd the shell-trap was complete. The 
missiles sang down from their eyries with the note 
of swans flying high overhead at night 

The pastoral gunners fired with notable 
accuracy and impartiality. Not a kopje but had 
its infantry, bivouacked in square patches, as is 
the way of British infantry, and not a kopje but 
got its shell. Now one came squarely into a 
patch, and — miracle of miracles! — ^no harm was 
done ; or perhaps in a similar case the doctor ran 
to the smoke and called up the hill to where the 
officers sat that two men had their legs off*. Once 
a single shrapnel killed eight men. Another shell 
fell among some officers at tea, and when the 
confusion drifted away only a coat lay on the 
ground gored and worried as by a wild animal. 
Other shells were fired at the pontoon bridge, 
others skimmed over a kopje where guns were 
and fell in the hospital camp. Two tents were 
hit, and the hospital was put further back. Some- 
times shrapnel fell among loose horses, and the 
animals started back at this strange snake in the 
g^rass, but seeing nothing more went on feeding 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 291 

peacefully. Then came another shrapnel, and a 
horse lay kicking on the ground and two others 
limped off head to knee as though they were 
knee-haltered. Animals are a vital and necessary 
place in which to wound your enemy ; but — 
heavens! — ^it is horrible. 

The Colenso kopjes gave a curiously faithful 
notion of Boer habits of defence. The south 
sides of them had belonged to the shells of our 
naval guns ; the north sides had belonged to the 
Boers. The Boers had built themselves rabbit 
warrens in which they might live serenely. 
While the south side, had smoked with countless 
bombardments the Boers had smoked on the 
other side in their bomb-proof dens. I found 
a cavern in which was an iron bedstead. The 
kopjes were littered with the remains of slaughtered 
animals and nauseous filth. But the Boers had 
not lived badly either. The stories about mealie 
pap and little of that to eat were the merest 
nonsense, told by the flattering tongues of 
prisoners and Kaffirs. Here were sardines, tinned 
meats, dried fruits, ham, potatoes, onions. A 
letter was found from a field-comet, desiring that 
another field-comet should use his influence to 



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292 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

see that the first field-cornet's commando should 
have a share of the fresh mutton which had just 
come into the laager, as the whole commando 
earnestly wished for a change from the long 
monotony of fresh beef. There was a profusion 
of letters on the ground. In scarcely one was 
there anything but indirect mention of the war. 
Say you picked one up at random in a little 
schantz where the earth was worn smooth and 
concave by the body of the man who had lain 
there day in day out — a man who had probably 
tempered his boredom by reading this same letter 
hundreds of times. Jan writes to Stoffel : ^Dear 
Brother, — God has been pleased to spare me. I 
hope it is also well with you. I have news from our 
home. The farm is well, and the com is becoming 
good, and the Kaffirs are working as well as can 
be expected, but Klaas needs flogging. We have 
had much rain here. Christian and Jacobus hope 
you continue to be well. May God spare you till 
we meet, brother. — Your affectionate JAN." Some 
women's clothes were lying about the place. But 
with it all the impression that prevailed on one's 
mind was that of filth. Here was a camp be- 
longing to a nation of strong stomachs. 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 293 

On Friday, February 23rd, the shelling and the 
sniping had no cessation. It was the tenth con- 
secutive day of fighting. Each new day of fighting 
the sense of weariness grew in geometrical pro- 
gression. The sense on my part was merely 
vicarious. The infantry were now lying out at 
nights without even their greatcoats. And all 
Thursday night the musketry had continued, 
sometimes just popping, sometimes swelling to 
a cataract of sound. The relentlessness of the 
thing struck into one's soul as something horrible 
What was this swaying tumult, lasting all through 
a black night in which none could see his hand in 
front of him ? Probably blind firing, prompted by 
the suspicion of one man and nervously courted 
and acted on by others, till miles of trenches were 
set flashing at nothing. It was 1.30 p.m. on 
Friday when the infantry swung out to a new 
attack. Hart's brigade was oif along the river and 
the railway.. Railway Hill on our right front 
was to be attacked — a sort of twin hill with a neck 
joining the two humps. On the humps were con- 
spicuous trenches, but there were trenches on the 
neck too. It was a high hill, higher than anything 
we were holding; it was quite one of the Boer 



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294 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

ramparts — a strategical hill that lay between us 
and Ladysmith. Now for it It was a bad-looking 
business, but we must have that hill. The infantry 
moved under the bank of the river, then they came 
to a place where they must climb up the bank and 
cross a railway bridge over a spruit which is a 
tributary of the Tugela. A Boer " pom-pom " was 
trained on the bridge. The thin brown line of 
bent, hurrying figures unreeled itself across the 
span. The bridge was hard to hit and the scatter- 
ing shells splashed in the river beyond. A few 
burst on the water and flirted the spray about It 
was a pretty and harmless entertainment Soon 
the infantry deployed and moved across an open 
piece of land. The foot of Railway Hill was 
reached. A party was formed to storm the hill. 
There were the Inniskilling Fusiliers, four com- 
panies of the Dublins, and four companies of the 
Connaughts. And now it was evening. You 
know those clear, rare evenings when there is a 
wonderful light along the lower skies — a light 
clearer than the broadest sunlight, although dusk 
already comes upon you. It was one of those 
evenings. Every tooth in the jagged stone trenches 
on Railway Hill showed black and hard and clearly 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 295 

cut against the sky. Field guns and naval guns 
on the northernmost of the long, trailing spurs 
of Hlangwana were flinging shrapnel and lyddite 
at these trenches. 

Sometimes three shells struck at once, and a 
mixture of trench and shell and earth, and perhaps 
of men, would fly up in black fragments against the 
sky. The Boers stood in their deep trenches — for 
some they were perpendicular coffins — and peeped 
over at the attackers. The Inniskillings advanced ; 
it was time for the Boers to fire ; it was now or 
never, shells or no shells. The Boers drew them- 
selves up in the trenches, their heads bobbed 
against the sky. They watched the flashes on the 
Hlangwana spur and ducked to the shells. Still 
the Inniskillings, the Dublins, and the Connaughts 
came on. And now followed the most frantic 
battle-piece that I have ever seen. Night soon 
snatched it away, but for the time it lasted it was a 
frenzy, a nightmare. Boer heads and elbows shot 
up and down, up and down; the defenders were 
aiming, firing, and ducking ; and all the trenches 
danced madly against the sky. The first few thin 
lines of the Inniskillings sank down like cut grass. 
Their places refilled ; still the attackers came on. 



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296 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

Two or three Boers stood up on the trenches ; and 
now all forgot to duck. Some one in the trenches 
appeared to be handing up loaded rifles. Still the 
attackers hurried on and fell or staggered forward 
over the stony ground, and the dusk received them 
on the brown hillside long before the trenches on 
the sky were blotted out The attackers reached 
what they had believed was the highest point, and 
behold there was another point — the real crest — 
four hundred yards further. There always is. 
Thus men learn geography in South Africa with 
their lives. It was impossible to reach the top. 

The attackers sullenly retired some way down 
the hill and built themselves a stonework. There 
they stayed till the morning and made another 
attack — useless I The most damaging fire had for 
a long time been coming from the flanks. This 
might be swamped by reinforcements. But where 
were the reinforcements? The party on the hill 
were expecting two and a half battalions. It was 
seven o'clock in the morning now and not a sign 
of them coming. What was to be done ? The 
colonel of the Inniskillings — Colonel Thackray, who 
had argued with some Boers at the battle of 
Colenso when they proclaimed him a prisoner, and 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 297 

ingeniously convinced them that they were making 
a mistake — ^was dead. Both his majors were dead. 
A captain commanded the regiment What was 
to be done ? It was decided to retire, and that 
none too soon. 

The exultant and pressing enemy opened a 
heavier cross-fire than ever, and harried the re- 
tirement home to its last step. Lieut-Colonel 
Sitwell, of the Dublins, was one of the last 
officers to start down the hill ; he was trying to 
make the retirement even steadier than it was. He 
was as deliberate now as ever ; and when a bullet 
(one of several that touched him) hit him fatally, 
it found him a ready sacrifice to a refinement of 
military appearances. The night before, General 
Hart had said that the manner of Sitwell's advance 
with two companies of the Dublins had given a 
fillip to the whole attack. Thus died one of the 
two (I think) survivors from that handful of 
officers who went through the four years* fighting 
of the Uganda rising. General Hart did not 
renew the attack that day, but some of the 
Durhams were sent up to reoccupy the stone- 
work made during Friday night. They could live 
there with precautions, and that was all. They 



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298 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

shared their shelter with dead and dying men. 
Further up the hill the bodies lay thicker. The 
bullets kept up an assiduous traffic above them. 

All day I sat on a high rocky place above a 
cascade of the Tugela, and looked down on to the 
foot of Railway Hill, which begins to rise im- 
mediately across the river. In the river above the 
cascade was a platform of black and dripping 
rocks, half exposed, and the cascade seemed like 
the receding of the tide from a rocky coast Above 
the rocks was a slight foot-bridge built by the 
Boers, and our men passed to and fro on it all day. 
They did not pass unconsidered ; I could see the 
bullets snatching up the water. I could see the 
bodies lying on Railway Hill. Some lay under 
the soldier's strip of yellow waterproof sheet, just 
as they had been left by the comrades who would 
risk more than a Boer flanking fire to linger behind 
and perform a cherished act of sentiment At 
least once I plainly saw a man move up there ; he 
was trying to crawl down the hill under that 
dangerously low roof of bullets. And one man 
actually did urge himself with hands and feet down 
the hill on his back, but it took him from morning 
to night to do it. Others lay quite still all day. 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 299 

and yet there was life in many of those yellow limp 
heaps, and I wondered which were dead men and 
which alive. Was it impossible to help them ? 
Let a man just show himself and he was not 
disposed to argue at that moment about the 
accuracy of Boer fire. Why, even our artillery 
could not afford to let the hill alone that day, but 
must beat down the fire with shells, and when the 
shelling ceased, the musketry flared up again, as 
flames do when the beaters cease their work. 

In the morning the wounded lay in the heat, 
and in the afternoon — ^which was perhaps better 
— in the rain. It was real South African rain, 
threshing off" the whole top skin of the country ; 
and when it had lasted half an hour the land was 
changed as a n^ative is developed under the 
chemicals ; unsuspected roads gleamed on the 
brown hills where nothing had been before, and 
tracks and fibres were discovered and displayed 
as clearly as in ice which has begun to thaw. 
Wounded men, dripping bundles, were being 
carried to hospitals at the rear ; the bearers them- 
selves were small cascades of water. 

" Which is the way to the Sixth Brigade ? " 
" I don't know ; but if s somewhere back there, 
about two miles." 



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300 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

And so on and on for two miles the reeling, lop- 
sided bearers sustaining the weight, went over the 
shiny mud. The rain had ceased before I got 
back to my camp ; men who had hugged to them- 
selves chips of dry wood were lighting their even- 
ing fires, and on all the kopjes began to sit under 
quiet panoplies of blue smoke. It was a cool, still 
night, and the stars were out ; but the rain had not 
washed away the memory of that hill as I saw it 
between two fires. A charming fellow sat outside 
my tent and sang cheery snatches on a banjo, 
which made one of the most violent assaults on 
my feelings that I can call to mind. That was the 
end of the eleventh consecutive day of fighting. 

Nearly all Sunday there was an armistice. 
Sixty bodies were buried on Railway Hill. British 
soldiers and Boers came out of their trenches and 
talked amiably together — a proceeding which seems 
natural enough when you have conquered the 
vulgar superstition that soldiers and politicians are 
at deadly enmity as private persons. The exultant 
enemy was inclined indulgently to admit that, on 
the whole, he had had a rough time. But Greneral 
Lyttelton was far too humorous to accept the 
indulgence. 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 301 

" A rough time ? ** said he, to two Boers. " Yes 
— I suppose so. But for us, of course, it is nothing. 
We are used to it, and we are well paid for it. 
This is what we are paid for. This is the life we 
lead always — ^you understand." 

" Great God ! " said the listening Boers. 

"Why not?" went on the General. "This is 
our life whether we are at Aldershot, or in India, 
or wherever we are. We are just beginning to 
settle down to this campaign." 

It was a general who spoke. The Boers stared 
at him. 

"Great God!" they said again, reduced to 
simplicity. 

I met a highly intelligent Englishman on this 
day of armistice who farms a large piece of country 
in the Transvaal. He turned away with a sigh 
after talking to some Boer elders. 

" It is delightful," said he, " to chat with these 
people again after the stupidity of an English 
camp." 

" You like the Boers, then ? " I asked. 

" I miss their little jokes," he said ; " they are 
never without their little jokes." 

" You are anxious to be back ? " 



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302 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

"Rather!" 

" Then you didn't approve of this war ? " 

" I was pining for it for years." 

"But why?" 

" Because it was not possible to live any longer 
with the Boers as things were." 

Apparently we have to adjust a racial relation- 
ship of an unduly fantastical character. 

On Railway Hill the officers had bloodshot eyes 
and voices that trailed with weariness. I under- 
stood that we had knocked our heads against a 
hard wall ; the officers did not disguise their belief 
in its hardness ; with the same trailing voices they 
told me how some of the wounded had lain thirty- 
six hours on Railway Hill. I said to myself, " If 
the Boers were fighting a rear-guard action after 
Monte Christo they have now been encouraged to 
bring their whole force back. They are on the old 
hills again — merely a little further east — and we 
stand in the old relationship to them." And in 
that moment I fell into a chasm of despair. I did 
not know then that it had been decided to leave the 
shell-trap and get back on to the hills that strike 
into the west from Monte Christo. Nor did I under- 
stand even then the indomitable qualities, the 



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THE BATTLE OF RAILWAY HILL 303 

instant power of renewing their spirits with each 
new plan, possessed by British infantry. Now I 
know the truth — that when our soldiers have 
failed, and failed, and failed again they are not 
further from success than they were at the begin- 
ning. 



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CHAPTER XVI 

THE BATTLE OF PIETER'S AND THE RELIEF 
OF LADYSMITH 

Ladysmith, Saturday, March 3, 1900. 

THE Tugela seemed to be ten thousand times 
in flood ; never before had it such a mighty 
rushing voice. The Rifle Composite Battalion 
(reservists of the Rifle Brigade and the 60th Rifles, 
with ten years' service at their backs almost to a 
man) and the Border Regiment were firing across 
the deep, narrow valley at the bottom of which the 
river runs. All the Maxims the battalions had 
between them were firing too till the water round 
the barrels boiled and boiled again; the Colts 
added their deep, deliberate rapping; and the 
river, drawing it all down, gave an impressive 
resonance to the continuous sweeping roar. It 
was February 27th, and the hills east of Railway 

304 



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J J f J 



DISTRICT BRTWEEN COLENSO AND LADYSMITH 



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THE BATTLE OF PIETER'S 305 

Hill were being prepared for an attack. As I 
rode across the plateau east of Hlangwana I dis- 
covered guns in new positions pointing at hills 
which had always stood serenely outside the 
conflict. 

The signs of battle are not to be mistaken ; as 
you ride towards the fighting they become more 
and more suggestive till they culminate in the 
end and meaning of them all — ^the death and 
mutilation of men. First you find groups 6{ 
unprotected commissariat waggons waiting for 
the order to go forward, ready loaded ; then, per- 
haps, a hospital — for you are still in the area 
where tents are allowed — then a column of infantry 
marching in mass, for this place is outside the 
range of the enemy's guns ; then, further on, an 
ammunition train, but this is sheltering behind a 
kopje ; then infantry supports, limbers, and limber 
teams, all hidden behind hills — ^visible to you, 
invisible from the front, so that the whole field is 
arranged on the plan of one of those advertisements 
which appear quite different from different sides. 
Last stage of all, you are abreast or in front oi 
the guns in action and among extended lines. 

It was battle again, and this was the plan of 
X 



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3o6 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

it : — We were to take the hills east of Railway 
Hill. These lay beyond the strong Boer line of 
defence, and if we took them (some of them would 
need scarcely more than to be occupied) we should 
have high hills on which to put g^ns and a hill 
from which to flank Railway Hill. The thought 
of taking Railway Hill was not given up ; the hill 
was to be the pivot of the attack, and both a 
frontal and a flank attack from the east were to be 
made that day. Now what the Composite Batta- 
lion and the Borders were doing was to send a 
dropping fire across the river on to all the 
threatened hills. There may not have been many 
Boers on them, and as usual we could see none, 
but if you drop lead, as the two battalions seemed 
to be doing, on to a large part of South Africa 
you are bound, at least, to inconvenience some 
one. All this time the attacking battalions were 
creeping in one long thin line (their legs moving 
like those of a monstrous centipede) along the 
north bank of the river, which here flows again 
from west to east Below the cascade a pontoon 
bridge had been newly built at a place discovered 
by Colonel Sandbach. 

The disposition was as follows: Colonel Nor- 



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THE BATTLE OF PIETER'S 307 

cott's brigade, consisting, for the day, of the 
Durham Light Infantry, the Rifle Brigade, the 
East Surreys, and half a battalion of the Scottish 
Rifles, attacked Railway Hill in front Colonel 
Kitchener's brigade, consisting, for the day, of his 
own regiment, the West Yorks, the South Lan- 
cashires, the Royal Lancaster, and York and 
Lancaster, attacked the next hill to the east, and 
also made a flank attack on Railway Hill. General 
Barton, with the Scots Fusiliers, Irish Fusiliers, 
and Dublin Fusiliers^ attacked Pieter's Hill on 
Kitchener's right 

General Barton's infantry, stepping high because 
of the rocks, must have moved a couple of miles 
under the river bank ; skirmishers as scouts peered 
ahead into the bush and beckoned on the rest, and 
the body drew itself up to the head, and then the 
head went on again till the whole force drew up 
below Pieter's Hill. From bottom to top the 
business seemed to occupy a fragment of time. 
You could hardly wink, as it seemed to me, before 
there were the front rank men showing strangely 
big against the sky, and the gunners, had they 
been less sharp, might easily have mistaken them 
for Boers. It is bewildering, in any case, to follow 



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3o8 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

your own men in the wide, modem field of battle 
and the position of the General, who has so much 
to remember and so many levers to work, is like 
that of the signalman at Clapham Junction. 

Once more by going far enough we had marched 
round the enemy. It all seemed so brief an 
exploit, and it was so quiet in the performance 
that you had to think hard to remember that this 
was success — something that advanced the cam- 
paign more than all the tempestuous unsuccess of 
a Railway Hill or a Spion Kop. But to-day 
Railway Hill was to see another sight 

I never saw infantry strain at the leash as they 
strained this day. The renascence of confidence 
and power and spirit and dash was complete. It 
was Majuba Day ; the attack had been planned 
dramatically. None could say that it was planned 
vindictively by Sir Redvers Buller, who has a nice 
appreciation of the ridiculous military importance 
which the inconsiderable affair of Majuba Hill has 
acquired from the proximity of a political arrange- 
ment But the private soldier has a strong sense 
of what is elementarily dramatic ; and the General 
who has lives to save as well as to take would be 
wrong to neglect any one of the mediums through 



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PLAN OF THB BATTLE OF i'lBTEKS 



turn AVTBOB 18 IHDIBTRII FOB TBI* rLAR TO LOBO BASIL BLACKWOOD, 
Wau BAIRD Ull WUBK OR A DI1aWI»« BI MB. BBUB BBBBBBT 



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THE BATTLE OF PIETER'S 309 

which he can work. On this day, too, the troops 
had been told that General Cronje had surrendered 
unconditionally, and one had traced the passage 
of the news as the squib of cheering and commo- 
tion spluttered along the lines. 

On the hill to the east of Railway Hill the 
infantry were already sitting near the top. It was 
theirs at their discretion. Only the difficult 
assault of Railway Hill remained. The East 
Surreys and the Rifle Brigade in front and the 
South Lancashires on the east had all crept up 
to a certain point The South Lancashires lay 
on the near slope of the railway bank ; if you had 
not seen them go there you would have said that 
they were heaps of ballast shot at intervals. If a 
man put his head above the line the track flew up 
in dust A mere handful of men squirmed over 
the line and chose their rocks on the other 
side. It was well, and they were a few yards 
further, but that did not make the taking of 
Railway Hill much the nearer. Another handful 
and another crept across. But still was it not 
critical? How were they to cross that ghastly 
open hillside? 

I was still thinking it was critical, and it was 



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3IO THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

nearly five o'clock. And then carae the most 
extraordinary revolution, sudden, astounding, 
brilliant, almost incomprehensible. Across the 
railway the South Lancashires suddenly rose 
up out of the ground, stones rose up too, 
and turned out to be infantrymen — more must 
have passed over than I had counted — ^and all 
began to run, not in stiff lines, but with the graceful 
spreading of a bird's wings straight up the hill. 
Splendid, and always new is the rush of British 
infantry, but had not the Inniskillings done this 
before ? Would this gain the hill now, that had 
not been gained before ? I waited, stricken with 
admiration and suspense. And then another 
revolution happened. Further on the right of 
Railway Hill came a second rush of infantry out 
of invisibility, or at least, from the unobserved 
and wholly unexpected, and it converged on the 
first careering body. On a small stony kopje on 
the lower slopes of Railway Hill the sweeping wave 
broke. 

Two trenches were there — Boer trenches. And 
now out of the trenches and down the back of 
the kopje ran black figures — speeding before the 
infantry, outstripping them. I had never seen a 



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THE BATTLE OF PIETER'S 311 

Boer run like this in the open before. Out of one 
trench an arm — ^just an arm — appeared waving a 
shirt or a towel — a grotesque of the arm that 
grasped Excalibur. Some soldiers stooped over 
the trenches — ^prisoners were made — and then on 
after the rest of the wave which had split on the 
kopje and mended itself again. The whole party 
joined the men who had charged on their left. 
The assault on Railway Hill was doubled. Up 
and up and up the South Lancashires went, 
seeming to drive and haul themselves up the side 
of the hill with arms and heads and legs. Now 
one man was on the top-most trench and waving 
his helmet on his bayonet, and down the sharp, 
stony, foot-destroying descent on the other side 
went a headlong, heedless flight of Boers. 

Shrapnel whipped and stung them home. On 
foot they went ; there was no time to snatch their 
horses, or perhaps, as some say, their horses were, 
most of them, dead, or, again, had been taken 
away from them. On the trenches I could see a 
bayonet jabbing here and there ; but for the most 
part the men pointed their rifles till hands were 
thrown up, and in a few minutes nearly sixty Boer 
prisoners were being led down to the river. 



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312 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

** I bayoneted that man," a soldier said, pointing 
to a prisoner, and here he rehearsed the appro- 
priate action. 

** Did you hurt him much ? " some one asked 

"Oh, no," was the answer, "1 bayoneted him 
as gently as I could. And I gave him water, too ; 
he had more than I did. Ah, I told him he was a 
lucky man to fall across me" 

Up the slopes of Railway Hill supports now 
walked as leisurely as though the place had 
always belonged to us ; the low, evening sun 
glittered on their front, and their backs were as 
black as the backs of silvery fishes. On every 
part of the hill troops climbed up into the sun and 
a golden, splendid property. On all the hills in 
front of me British troops bristled. A sudden 
realisation of the- victory swept over the field ; 
there was a cessation, almost a silence ; guns no 
longer crashed ; and then from some part of the 
field there came a little unaided cheer, that asked 
assistance. Assistance came ; cheer answered 
cheer, backwards and forwards across the river, 
till all cheers became the same cheer, and staff 
officers forgot that they were not as ordinary 
officers and threw up their helmets and shook 



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THE BATTLE OF PIETER'S 313 

hands with one another. No one minded that the 
Boer gunners were throwing a dying flare of shells 
on to our hills. The night was on us, and that is 
the time to build entrenchments. Never was an 
attack better timed. 

The next morning we had to look to the Dundee 
road for Boers. There they went, a long line 
trekking north. We stared across the open country 
that reaches to solid Umbulwana, familiar yet new, 
and felt that it was a matter of hours to relieve 
Ladysmith. The hills on which we stood were 
sown and scorched with our own shells ; trees 
were stripped and scoured and smashed ; sixteen 
Boers were dead in one trench ; some boys, and 
some old, old men and two women were among the 
dead (I had a qualm for the victory then), and all 
the trenches and littered clothes were covered with 
the peculiar noxious yellow substance of lyddite. 
It would be insulting to our own success to say 
that the Boers who had stood for days in that 
nauseous welter ol death were anything but the 
bravest of brave men. 

On Wednesday evening, February 28th, some 
of the Natal Carbineers, the Natal Police, and the 
Imperial Light Horse reconnoitred as far as Lady- 



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X 



314 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

smith, and finding no opposition entered the town. 
Colonel Rhodes and others were watching from 
one of the Ladysmith hills and saw them coming. 

" They are Boers," said some one. 

"If they are," said Colonel Rhodes, " they have 
become remarkably like our men." 

As the horsemen approached the truth became 
clear. The town resounded with excitement. 
Rations had just been reduced a little further ; the 
relief was unexpected ; no one knew that the 
Boers had all gone, so silently and skilfully had 
they managed to creep away. 

I rode into Ladysmith the next morning. I 
expected, frankly, a scene that would be some tax 
on the emotions. I remembered the words of a 
soldier who had said the day before, " I suppose 
when we get in there we shall all be hugging one 
another for joy." Probably the enthusiasm and 
the emotion had spent themselves the night before ; 
an English frenzy has at best a short life. I know 
that when I rode in i found people of ordinary 
countenance surveying an ordinary situation. I 
have been greeted with as much ardour in the 
afternoon in London by a man with whom I had 
lunched two hours before. The garrison were a 



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WKKTIsr, OF r.F.NEKAI. iai.I.i:i: and (.KNERAI. white in I.AbYSMrTH 



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THE BATTLE OF PIETER'S 315 

little inclined to be angry with us for having taken 
so long to reach them. 

I overheard the greeting of one distinguished 
general to another. 

" Well, how have you been getting on ? " asked 
the besieged one. 

" All right, thanks," was the answer, an a tem- 
porary silence followed. For a short time I was 
disappointed. Then I found half the explanation. 

" Two months ago," said the officer, " the thing 
was a strain, but we got over that. Two months 
ago we were enthusiastic when we heard you were 
coming, but we got over that Two months ago 

" so he went on. Why, of course ! What can 

a man do, or think, or feel on quarter rations when 
his skin begins "to tighten over his bones." I 
felt as though I were in a place as unsubstantial as 
a shadow land — gaunt men greeted one with wisps 
of smiles without violence of feeling, gaunt grooms 
combed gaunt artillery horses with the husks of the 
old assiduity. As for the garrison " cutting their 
way out," in the exhilarating phrase, there was not 
a company of infantry that could march a mile and 
a half, and not a horse that could pull a gun three 
miles without dropping. 



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3i6 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

This is the natural explanation of this gentle 
end, like the quiet breathing away of a life, to a 
splendidly endured siege. And for the rest the 
demeanour of the garrison was found to be so 
admirably English, so characteristic of Englishmen 
who had fought a siege in an English manner, that 
on reflection my disappointment at the lack of the 
expected and the poignant become richly endeared 
to me. 



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POSTSCRIPT 
THE CAMPAIGN IN RETROSPECT 

R.M.S. Norman, March \^hy 1900. 

AFTER examining some fifty illustrated papers 
on board this ship I conclude that modem 
war does not make a picture — at least a truthful 
picture. I know not whether to commiserate the 
artist or his public the more. The latter lashes the 
former into what is said fondly to be realism, and 
is rewarded ironically with infidelity. Think of 
the artist's materials, and you will see that if he is 
to be truthful he cannot also appease the morbid. 
The fatal fact about modem war is the absence of 
smoke. In the old pictures smoke was a label 
and an index. "This is blood and death and 
stalking horror," the smoke seemed to say ; " and 
where there is too much horror for art, there can at 
least be obscurity." Put dark smoke and tongues 

317 



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3i8 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

of flame visible within it spouting from the broad- 
side of a ship, and you understand at once the 
meaning of a Nelson. But what on earth can the 
poor artist do without smoke ? Think, I say, of the 
modern materials. One' side is entrenched and is 
invisible ; the other side is attacking and is visible 
enough, but the attackers are not in close line, or 
columns, or companies, or squadrons, or platoons, 
or in any formation that will compose itself satis- 
factorily within the limited page of an illustrated 
paper. If I were to give a quite truthful represen- 
tation of an attack I should have to limit myself 
to, say, ten men walking forward with long gaps 
between them and looking very much like you or 
me walking anywhere for any purpose. If I put 
more than ten men the figures would be very small 
and marching into a distance horribly remote from 
our realism. I might put a shell bursting in front 
of the men, but then the ten British soldiers could 
not be truthfully represented as taking any parti- 
cular notice of that. And if the ten men were to 
be in extended order for an attack I could scarcely 
introduce one of our own guns on to the same page 
with any appearance of probability. I have cer- 
tainly seen incidents of the field represented with 



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POSTSCRIPT 319 

both admirable life and truth — the saving of a gun, 
the assault on a particular trench — but on the 
grand scale modern war does not make a picture. 
When there is smoke there is life in the artist's 
pencil, but without smoke he is lost In details the 
discreet reader is probably already able to make 
his own corrections. He knows what to think of 
a war picture that represents a Boer in smart top- 
boots, or one of our poor tired colonial ponies as a 
charger, lifting his knees into his mouth and snort- 
ing fire from his nostrils. 

Reflection inclines me to attempt a valuation of 
the Boer as a fighting man. Briefly, our evidence 
for the estimate is this. Before the war the colo- 
nists told us that the Boer was a coward and could 
not shoot " The old Boer may have been able to 
shoot," they said, " but he practised on big game, 
and there is not much big game left now. The 
young Boer cannot shoot" They continued to say 
that after a couple of months in the field the Boers 
would fly incontinently home. Now there never 
was a greater misjudgment of national character, 
and when the shock of realisation came there was 
a natural, indeed inevitable, tendency on the part 
of Imperial officers to rush to the other extreme. 



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320 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

The Boers were invested with the cunning of 
Mephistopheles and the courage of Leonidas. 
More fighting has brought more experience, and it 
is quite possible now to review the whole campaign 
of the Ladysmith relief column and to judge from 
it. On the whole I should say that the Boers' 
claim to the possession of the qualities both of 
heart and eye is established. They are brave, and 
their quickness in judging distances — in other 
words, of finding the range — is a lesson to riflemen 
or gunners anywhere in the world. But their 
cleverness is shown to be not overwhelming, after 
all. On the only two occasions on which the relief 
column marched quickly round the Boer flank the 
enemy allowed himself to be turned and imme- 
diately afterwards retreated with as much docility 
as could be desired. At Monte Christo we ascended 
the hills not in face of the Boer trenches, but at a 
point where the trenches had ceased and whither 
the long Boer line of defence could not satisfac- 
torily reach. Up we went, lost few men, and the 
Boers fell back with the most placid air of amazed 
stupidity. The same thing happened again in the 
successful fight at Pieters Hill, and, in short, the 
whole advance to Ladysmith caused a loss of not a 



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POSTSCRIPT pt 

thousand men. It is proved now that the greater 
part of our 6,000 odd casualties were unnecessary 
losses in unprofitable checks. I do not for a 
moment say that such losses as these can be 
wholly avoided, for one side of a general's work is 
bound to be experimental, but I can say (which is 
a reflection, no doubt, on ourselves) that the Boers 
are not, after all, astonishingly clever. Generals 
like Lord Roberts and General French, who insist 
on moving quickly and have sufficient troops, 
should be able to turn the Boer lines in future with 
something like certainty. 

On the rifle-shooting of the Boers I will not 
argue. Here is a matter in which assertion is 
excusable in the eye-witness. The old Boer and 
the young Boer, and whoever is employed by the 
Boer, shoot extremely well. As for the Boer 
gunnery, it is the astonishment of the world. 
People say the gunners are Germans. Well, there 
may be Germans among the gunners, as there may 
be French and Scandinavians, and Russians, and 
Irish ; but I say that most of these gunners must 
have had a long experience of this country. To 
have the range absolutely at the second shot in 
this dancing, deceptive atmosphere is beyond the 



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322 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

scope of the simple imported European gunner. 
The last of our fallacies to be removed was that 
the Boers would not assault a fortified place. This 
fallacy was removed on January 6th, when the 
enemy pressed hard on Ladysmith. But, on the 
other hand, it is proved now that the Boers are far 
from consummate in assault On all grounds it 
was desirable, even necessary, for the Boers to 
capture Ladysmith. If they had made one more 
assault (and they had plenty of time to do it) as 
good as that of January 6th, Ladysmith would 
probably have fallen. If every Boer outside Lady- 
smith had been exchanged for a British soldier, 
who does know how to assault with persistence, 
the result would have been quite different The 
failure to take Ladysmith would spoil any record 
of military achievement The qualities which the 
Boers possess beyond cavil are considerable enough. 
There is still to be found, however, the correspon- 
dent who harps with a tenacity that is a sort of 
arch-courage on the old string of cowardice and 
erratic shooting. Possibly he thinks his sympa- 
thetic readers like to be flattered in this way, but 
if he looked further he would see the possibility of 
a nicer and deeper compliment in the implication 



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POSTSCRIPT 323 

that the British army is able to defeat a nimble, 
straight-eyed, and courageous enemy. If there is 
so much cowardice on the one side, I have asked 
myself, where is the need for ranging all this 
exquisite heroism on the other side to meet it? 
This sort of writer produces an astonishing sum 
after playing with terms that all the time have been 
cancelling one another. Where the Boers have an 
advantage probably over every other army in the 
world is that each man is an intelligent and think- 
ing unit An army at once mobile and thinking is 
bad to beat "There's always a plan," says the 
Boer proverb, and Piet and Hans and Jan are all 
capable of offering their views to the Field Comet, 
and it is expected of them that they will do so. 
"Go up to that kopje and keep the rooineks back," 
says the officer. " No, Commandant," says Hans 
from among the number. " Don't you see, if we 

go there " &c. And then the Commandant 

hears of a factor in the problem which he had 
ignored, or perhaps could not possibly have known 
about, and so he alters his decision. But it would 
be impossible, and of course in the circumstances 
entirely undesirable, that a British soldier should 
give a reason for not holding the kopje, even if he 



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3^4 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

had reason to know (what the officer did not know) 
that the place would blow up immediately he set 
foot on it Or perhaps, again, the Boers are in a 
tight place and Jan has a plan which he offers for 
the consideration of the officers. In the evening, 
when the scheme for the morrow is being discussed 
in the " Pow-wow," with much sipping of gin and 
puffing of pipes, Jan offers his views without em- 
barrassment, and as likely as not the General 
adopts the plans without an imputation of losing 
his dignity. 

Lastly, I must say something about the accusa- 
tions against the Boers of improperly using white 
flags, ambulances, and so forth. A judicial observer 
has said to me, "Two-fifths of the stories are lies, 
two-fifths are accounted for by the mistakes and 
accidents of the battlefield, and one-fifth are true.'* 
Wrong uses of the white flag certainly have been 
committed. It is sufficient to remember that Lord 
Roberts, whose name promises to become memo- 
rable for courtesy, leniency, and humanity, has 
protested on this score. Some one has told me, 
with what truth I know not, that among many 
ignorant " veldt Boers " there is a belief that there 
is a kind of local value in a white flag. If a man is 



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POSTSCRIPT 325 

wounded, for instance, they think they may legiti- 
mately wave a white flag while they carry him off 
and then themselves return to join the firing line. 
If this is true, the sooner the ridiculous belief is 
dissipated the better. In my own view, at least 
three-fifths of the stories arise from mishaps of the 
field. The correspondent who tells us that the field 
was swept with a " hail of bullets," also complains 
that ambulance staffs while working on that field 
were fired upon. Risk there is bound to be ; the 
thing to do is to reduce it when possible. The Red 
Cross, as I have suggested before, should be painted 
much larger wherever it is used^ and there should 
be a thoroughly understood co-operation (at least 
of a negative character) between the combatant and 
medical branches of the army. There should be 
certain things which a regimental officer should 
never allow himself to do, and one is to halt his 
men in the neighbourhood of ambulance waggons. 
This fault is often committed, not because a single 
officer in the army would dream of seeking a 
despicable safety or of involving an ambulance in 
a common and unnecessary peril, but because the 
place where an ambulance is is often a convenient 
resting-place, and it simply does not occur to 



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326 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

many officers that there is a reason for not using 
it Some mischances seem to be quite inevitable. 
I will give an instance which happened at Pot- 
gieter's. The naval guns were ordered to fire at 
an invisible point on the other side of Spion Kop, 
where the Boers were said to be in force. It was 
blind firing, of course. The shells, we soon heard, 
were falling round a Boer hospital, and of course 
the gunners were at once ordered to stop firing and 
forego the advantage they sought The Boers 
have been accused of using poisoned bullets. I 
have examined hundreds of their bullets, and the 
poison turns out to be the natural accretion of 
verdigris, which grows thick from the action of the 
brass and nickel in the Mauser cartridge. Again, 
the Boers are said to have used explosive bullets. 
I do not know what an explosive bullet is, unless 
it be a bullet which explodes on contact or in the 
air ; that is to say, unless it be a small shell. Such 
a bullet, I think, has certainly not been used. But, 
on the other hand, most of us have seen several 
specimens of soft-headed and expanding bullets, 
which some of the Boers have used beyond a 
doubt 

In our own fighting the most important point to 



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POSTSCRIPT 327 

be observed is that the mounted infantry, though 
freely used for scouting and occasional skirmishing, 
have not been used in important attacks. The 
reason I take to be that the custom of ages cannot 
be changed in six months. We have learned to 
attack as infantry, and it is not easy now to attack 
otherwise. We have argued that we must make 
ourselves mobile by the use of mounted infantry, 
but when it comes to the point of attacking a hill 
the horses are left further behind than the Boers 
would dream of leaving theirs, because it is just as 
difficult for an army to alter its nature in a supreme 
moment as it is for a man who has learned to row 
in one style to row a race in another which he has 
but recently tried to acquire. No ; when the ex- 
citement comes he will insensibly revert to the old 
style. 

When one has seen the inimitable stolid courage, 
the health, and the cheerfulness of our infantry, 
one cannot doubt the issue of a war like this. The 
end is certain in the long run. Generals may make 
mistakes, and then the whole question resolves 
itself into this — How long will it take before the 
right man, the man who will use this extraordinarily 
good material to the best advantage, works his 



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328 THE RELIEF OF LADYSMITH 

way to the head of affairs ? He has to work his 
way through an iron system of conventional rules 
of precedence. The question how long the precious 
material of the army should suffer while the 
process of elimination is being automatically con- 
ducted is one which the difficult future holds for 
us to settle. 



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APPENDICES 

APPENDIX A 

TABLE OP DATES 
1899. 

Oct. 10.— Boer Ultimatum received in London. 
12.— The Boers invade Natal. 
14. — Sir Redvers Bailer leaves England for the Cape. 
20. — The Boers defeated at Dundee ; General Symons 

mortally wounded. 
21. — ^The Boers defeated at Elandslaagte. 
22. — British retreat from Dundee begins. 
24. — Boers checked at Rietfontein. 
26. — Dundee column arrives at Ladysmith. 
SO.^British reverse at Farquhar's Farm and disaster at 
Nicholson's Nek. Naval Brigade arrives at Lady- 
smith. 
31. — Sir Redvers Buller lands at Cape Town. 
Nov. 2. — Ladysmith surrounded ; Colenso abandoned. 
9. — Attack on Ladysmith repulsed. 
II. — Mobilisation of Sir Charles Warren's Division ordered. 
15. — Estcourt armoured train disaster. 
21.— Estcourt surrounded and Mooi RiVer camp shelled. 
23. — Action at Willow Grange. 
25.— The Boers fall back on the Tugela. 
27. — Sir Redvers BuUer arrives at Pietermaritzburg. 
Pec, 10.— Sortie by the Ladysmith garrison. 

3^ 



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330 APPENDICES 

1899. 

Dec. 15.— Sir Redvers Bailer defeated at Colenso. 
1900. 

Jan. 6. — Ladysmith repels a desperate assault 
II.— BuUer seizes Potgieter's Drift 
17. — ^Warren crosses the Tugela. 
23. — Spion Kop captured by the British ; Gen. Woodgate 

mortally wounded. 
24. — Spion Kop abandoned. 
25-^7. — ^Warren retires across the Tugela. 
Feb. 5.— British recross the Tugela and storm Vaal Krantz. 

7. — British evacuate Vaal Krantz and retire across the 

Tugela again. 
14. — Lord Dundonald seizes Hussar Hill. 
18. — ^The British capture Monte Christo and Green HilL 
19. — ^The Boers retreat across the Tugela. 
20. — The British reoccupy Colenso. 
2 1. —The British cross the Tugela below Colenso. 
22. — Continuous fighting. 
23. — Irish Brigade assaults Railway Hill. 
24. — ^The assault renewed and repelled. 
25. — ^An armistice for burying the dead. 
26. — Buller withdraws his guns and baggage across the 

Tugela and recrosses at another place. 
27. — Buller attacks the main Boer position : Barton's 

Brigade assaults and carries Pieter's Hill. 
28. — ^The Boers abandon their positions. Lord Dundonald 
and the Natal Carbineers reach Ladysmith. 
Mar. I. — Sir Redvers Buller enters the relieved town. 



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APPENDICES 



331 



APPENDIX B 
BRITISH LOSSES IN THE NATAL CAMPAIGN 

TABLE OF CASUALTIES ISSUED BY THE WAR OFFICE ON 
MARCH 27, 1900. 



Casualties in Actioa. 



Name of Engagement 



Total casualties reported up to 
and including Marcli 24. X900 

Colenso, December 15, 1899 .... 

Dundee, October ao^ 1899 

Elandslaagte, October 21. 1899. . 

Farquhar's Farm and Nictiol- 
son'8 Nek, October 30, 1899 . . 

Ladysmlth, Relief of, February 
14 to 37, 1900 

Monte Cliristo (Colenso), &c.. 
February 15 to 18, 1900 

Potgieter's Drift, Feb. 5 to 7, 1900 

Rietfontein, October 24. 1899 

Spion Kop, &c., Jan. 17 to 24. 1900 

Willow Grange, Nov. 23, 1899 . . 

At Ladysmitn dnring invest- 
ment- 
Battle of January 6, 1900 .... 
Other casualties 











Died of 










Wounds 


Missing 


KiUed. 


Wounded. 


(Included 


and 






in 


Prisoners.* 






(Wounded,) 




fi 


P' 


B 


i^ 


1 


p 


i 


u 


S 


Si 


§ 


it 


i 


55 


§ 


ii 


7 


"5 


48 


722 


2 


20 


21 


207 


8 


40 


14 


84 


3 




25 


306 


5 


50 


30 


169 




4 




4 


6 


54 


9 


231 




3 


43 


906t 


23 


264 


90 


1,770 


3 


67 


I 


33 


I 


n 


8 


155 






.. 


2 


2 


23 


18 


326 




8 




5 


I 


11 


6 


g8 




3 




2 


27 


246 


53 


1,056 


5 


36 


7 


340 




XI 


X 


t6 




2 




8 


14 


143 


31 


228 


4 


x8 




2 


5 


55 


29 


215 


2 


23 

1 


" 


9 



During the same period the Field Force in South Africa 
lost 39 officers and 1,168 men who died of disease, three officers 
and 29 men who were accidentally killed, and 193 officers and 
3,811 men who were sent home as invalids. A large pro- 
portion of these losses fell upon the forces in Natal. 

* A complete list of prisoners has not been obtained. 

t Including the missing men of Royal Irish Fusiliers numbers not reported, but 
estimated at 442. 



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APPENDIX C 

OFFICIAL DESPATCHES ON THE BATTLE 
OF SPION KOP 

Despatch from Field-Marshal Lord Roberts to the Secretary of 
StaUfor War. 

Army Headquarters, South Africa, 
Camp, Dekibl Drift, Riet River, 

February 13, igoo. 

My Lord, — I have the honour to submit for your Lord- 
ship's information despatches from General Sir Redvers 
BuUer describing the advance across the Tugela River on 
the 17th and i8th January, 1900, and the capture and 
evacuation of the Spion Kop position on the 23rd and 24th 
January, as well as certain minor operations between the 
19th and 24th January on the right or eastern line of 
advance. 

2. The plan of operations is not very clearly described 
in the despatches themselves, but it may be gathered from 
them and the accompanying documents themselves that 
the original intention was to cross the Tugela at or near 
Trichardf s Drift, and thence, by following the road past 
Fair View and Acton Homes, to gain the open plain north 
of Spion Kop, the Boer position in front of Potgieter's Drift 
being too strong to be taken by direct attack. The whole 
force, less one brigade, was placed under the orders of Sir 

332 



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APPENDICES 333 

Charles Warren, who, the day after he had crossed the 
Tugela, seems to have consulted his general and principal 
stafiE officers, and to have come to the conclusion that the 
flanking movement which Sir Redvers Buller had men- 
tioned in his secret instructions was impracticable on 
account of the insufficiency of supplies. He accordingly 
decided to advance by the more direct road leading north- 
east and branching o£F from a point east of Three Tree 
Hill. The selection of this road necessitated the capture 
and retention of Spion Kop, but whether it would have 
been equally necessary to occupy Spion Kop, had the line 
of advance indicated by Sir Redvers Buller been followed, 
is not stated in the correspondence. As Sir Charles Warren 
considered it impossible to make the wide flanking move- 
ment which was recommended, if not actually pre- 
scribed, in his secret instructions, he should at once 
have acquainted Sir Redvers Buller with the course of 
action which he proposed to adopt. There is nothing to 
show whether he did so or not, but it seems only fair to 
Sir Charles Warren to point out that Sir Redvers Buller 
appears throughout to have been aware of what was 
happening. On several occasions he was present during 
the operations. He repeatedly gave advice to his sub- 
ordinate Commander, and on the day after the withdrawal 
from Spion Kop he resumed the chief command. 

3. As regards the withdrawal of the troops from the 
Spion Kop position, which, though occupied almost with- 
out opposition in the early morning of the 24th January, 
had to be held throughout the day under an extremely 
heavy fire, and the retention of which had become 
essential to the relief of Ladysmith, I regret that I am 
unable to concur with Sir Redvers Buller in thinking that 
Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycrof t exercised a wise discre- 
tion in ordering the troops to retire. Even admitting that 
due preparations may not have been made for strengthen- 
ing the position during the night, reorganising the defence, 



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334 APPENDICES 

and bringing up artillery — ^in regard to which Sir Charles 
Warren's report does not altogether bear oat Sir Redvers 
Buller's contention — admitting also that the senior officers 
on the summit of the hill might have been more promptly 
informed of the measures taken by Sir Charles Warren to 
support and reinforce them, I am of opinion that Lieutenant- 
Colonel Thorneycroft's assumption of responsibility and 
authority was wholly inexcusable. During the night the 
enemy's fire, if it did not cease altogether, could not have 
been formidable, and though lamp signalling was not 
possible at the time, owing to the supply of oil having 
failed, it would not have taken more than two or three 
hours at most for Lieutenant-Colonel Thomeycroft to com- 
municate by messenger with Major-General Coke or Sir 
Charles Warren, and to receive a reply. Major-General 
Coke appears to have left Spion Kop at 9.30 p.m. for the 
purpose of consulting with Sir Charles Warren, and up to 
that hour the idea of a withdrawal had not been entertained. 
Yet almost immediately after Major-General Coke's depar- 
ture Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft issued an order, 
without reference to superior authority, which upset the 
whole plan of operations, and rendered unavailing the 
sacrifices which had already been made to carry it into 
e£Fect. On the other hand, it is only right to state that 
Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft appears to have behaved 
in a very gallant manner throughout the day, and it was 
doubtless due, in a great measure, to his exertions and 
example that the troops continued to hold the summit of 
the hill until directed to retire. 

4. The conduct of Captain Phillips, brigade-major of the 
loth Brigade, on the occasion in question, is deserving of 
high commendation. He did his best to rectify the mistake 
which was being made, but it was too late. Signalling 
communication was not re-established until 2.30 a.m. on 
January 25th, and by that time the naval guns could not 
have reached the summit of the hill before daybreak. 



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APPENDICES 335 

Major-General Coke did not return, and Lieutenant-Colonel 
Thorneycroft had gone away. Moreover, most of the 
troops had begun to leave the hill, and the working parties, 
with the half company of Royal Engineers, had also with- 
drawn. 

5. It is to be regretted that Sir Charles Warren did not 
himself visit Spion Kop during the afternoon or evening, 
knowing as he did that the state of affairs there was very 
critical, and that the loss of the position would involve the 
failure of the operations. He was consequently obliged to 
summon Major-General Coke to his headquarters in the 
evening in order that he might ascertain how matters were 
going on, and the command on Spion Kop thus devolved 
on Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft; but Major-General 
Coke was not aware of this. About midday, under in- 
structions from Sir Redvers Buller, Sir Charles Warren 
had directed Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft to assume 
command on the summit of the hill, with the temporary 
rank of Brigadier-General, but this order was not commu- 
nicated to Major-General Coke, who, until he left the 
position at 9.30 p.m., was under the impression that the 
command had devolved on Colonel Hill, as senior officer, 
after Colonel Croften had been wounded. Omissions or 
mistakes of this nature may be trivial in themselves, yet 
may exercise an important influence on the course of events ; 
and I think that Sir Redvers Buller is justified in remarking 
that " there was a want of organisation and S3rstem which 
acted most unfavourably on the defence." 

6. The attempt to relieve Ladysmith, described in these 
despatches, was well devised, and I agree with Sir Redvers 
Buller in thinking that it ought to have succeeded. That 
it failed may, in some measure, be due to the difficulties of 
the ground and the commanding positions held by the 
enemy — ^probably also to errors of judgment and want of 
administrative capacity on the part of Sir Charles Warren. 
But whatever faults Sir Charles Warren may have com- 



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336 APPENDICES 

mitted, the failure must also be ascribed to the disinclina- 
tion of the officer in supreme command to assert his 
authority and see that what he thought best was done, 
and also to the unwarrantable and needless assumption of 
responsibility by a subordinate officer. 

7. The gratifying feature in these despatches is the 
admirable behaviour of the troops throughout the opera- 
tions. — I have, &c., 

Roberts, Field-Marshal, 
Commander-in^hief, South Africa. 

The following is the text of Sir Redvers Buller*s 
despatch : 

From General Sir Redvers Bullet to the Secretary of State 
for War. 

(Through Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, G.C.B., Com- 
mander-in-Chief, Capetown.) 

Spearman's Hill, ^an, 30, 1900. 

Sir, — I have the honour to report that General Sir 
Charles Warren's Division having arrived at Estcourt, less 
two battalions loth Brigade, which were left at the Cape, 
by January 7th, it moved to Frere on the 9th. 

The column moved as ordered, but torrents of rain fell 
on the 9th, which filled all the spruits, and, indeed, ren- 
dered many of them impassable for many hours. To 
forward supply alone took 650 ox waggons, and as in the 
sixteen miles from Frere to Springfield there were three 
places at which all the waggons had to be double-spanned, 
and some required three spans, some idea may be formed 
of the difficulties, but these were all successfully overcome 
by the willing labours of the troops. 

The 4th Brigade reached Springfield on the 12th in 
support of the mounted troops who had surprised and 



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APPENDICES 337 

seized the important position of Spearman's Hill, com- 
manding Potgieter's Drift, on the nth. 

By the 13th all troops were at Springfield and Spear- 
man's Hill, and supply was well forward. 

On the 1 6th, a reserve of seventeen days' supply having 
been collected, General Sir C. Warren, in command of the 
2nd Division, the nth Brigade of the 5th Division, the 
Brigade Division Royal Field Artillery, 5th Division, and 
certain corps troops, including the Mounted Brigade, 
moved from Springfield to Trichardf s Drift, which is 
about six miles west of Potgieter's. 

I attach Sir C. Warren's report of his operations. 

On the night of the 23rd General Warren attacked Spion 
Kop, which operation he has made the subject of a special 
report. On the morning of the 25th, finding that Spion 
Kop had been abandoned in the night, I decided to 
withdraw General Warren's force; the troops had been 
continuously engaged for a week in circumstances entailing 
considerable hardships, there had been very heavy losses 
on Spion Kop. I consequently assumed the command, 
commenced the withdrawal of the ox and heavy mule 
transports on the 25th ; this was completed by midday 
the 26th ; by double-spanning the loaded ox waggons got 
over the drift at the rate of about eight per hour. The 
mule waggons went over the pontoon bridge, but all the 
mules had to be taken out and the vehicles passed over by 
hand. For about seven hours of the night the drift could 
not be used, as it was dangerous in the dark, but the use 
of the pontoon went on day and night. In addition to 
machine guns, six batteries of Royal Field Artillery, and 
four howitzers, the following vehicles were passed : Ox 
waggons, 232 ; ten-span mule waggons, 98 ; six-span, 107 ; 
four-span, 52; total, 489 vehicles. In addition to these, 
the ambulances were working backwards and forwards, 
evacuating the sick and wounded. 

By 2 p.m. the 26th all the ox waggons were over, and by 
z 



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338 APPENDICES 

11.30 p.m. all the mule transports were across and the 
bridge clear for the troops. By 4 a.m. the 27th all the 
troops were over, and by 8 a.m. the pontoons had gone 
and all was clear. The troops had all reached their new 
camps by 10 a.m. The marches averaged for the mounted 
troops about seven miles, and for the infantry and artillery 
an average of five miles. 

Everything worked without a hitch, and the arrange- 
ments reflected great credit on the Staff of all degrees; 
but I must especially mention Major Irwin, R.E., and his 
men of the Pontoon Troop, who were untiring. When all 
men were over, the chesses of the pontoon bridge were so 
worn by the traffic that I do not think they would have 
lasted another half-hour. 

Thus ended an expedition which I think ought to have 
succeeded. We have suffered very heavy losses, and lost 
many whom we can ill spare, but, on the other hand, we 
have inflicted as great or greater losses upon the enemy 
than they have upon us, and they are by all accounts 
thoroughly disheartened, while our troops are, I am glad 
and proud to say, in excellent fettle. — I have, &c., 

Redvers Buller, General Officer Commanding. 

The despatch from Sir Charles Warren describing the 
operations which led up to and followed the capture and 
abandonment of Spion Kop was thus worded : — 

From Lieutenant-General Sir C. Warren to the Chitf 
0/ the Staff. 

Haiti NG's Farm, 

Jan. 29, 1900. 
Sir, — I have the honour to make the following report on 
the operations on the north side of the Tugela, west of 
Spion Kop, from the 17th to the 27th of January, 1900 : 

I. On the 8th January field orders were published con- 
stituting the loth Brigade of the Fifth Division a Corps 



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APPENDICES 339 

Brigade, and placing the 4th Brigade in the Fifth Division. 
The Fifth Division thus constituted marched from Frere 
en the loth instant, arriving at Springfield on the 12th 
instant. 

2. On the 15th January I received your secret instruc- 
tions to command a force to proceed across the Tugela, 
near Trichardt's Drift to the west of Spion Kop, recom- 
mending me to proceed forward, refusing my right (namely 
Spion Kop) and bringing my left forward to gain the open 
plain north of Spion Kop. This move was to commence as 
soon as supplies were all in, and the loth Brigade (except 
two companies) removed from Springfield Bridge tp Spear- 
man's Hill. 

3. I was provided with four days' rations, with which I 
was to cross the Tugela, fight my way round to north of 
Spion Kop, and join your column opposite Potgeiter's. 

4. On January 15th I made the arrangements for getting 
supplies, and moved the loth Brigade on the following 
day ; and on the evening of January i6th I left Springfield 
with a force under my command, which amounted to an 
Aimy Corps (less one Brigade), and by a night march 
arrived at Trichardf s Drift, and took possession of the 
hills on the south side of the Tugela. 

5. On the 17th January I threw pontoon bridges across 
the Tugela, passed the Infantry across by ponts, and 
captured the hills immediately commanding the drift on 
the north side with two brigades commanded by Generals 
Woodgate and Hart. The Commander-in-Chief was 
present during part of the day, and gave some verbal 
directions to General Woodgate. The Mounted Brigade 
passed over principally by the drift, and went over the 
country as far as Acton Homes, and on the following day 
(i8th) had a successful action with a small party of Boers, 
bringing in 31 prisoners. During the night of the 17th and 
day of the i8th the whole of the waggons belonging to the 



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340 APPENDICES 

force were brought across the Tugela, and the artillery 
were in position outside of Wrighf s Farm. 

6. On the 19th two brigades advanced, occupying the 
slopes of the adjoining hills on the right, and the waggons 
were successfully brought to Venter's Spruit. 

In the evening, after having examined the possible roads 
by which we could proceed, I assembled the general 
officers and the staff and the officer commanding Royal 
Artillery and commanding Royal Engineers, and pointed 
out to them that of the two roads by which we could 
advance, the eastern one by Acton Homes must be rejected, 
because time would not allow of it, and with this all con- 
curred. I then pointed out that the only possible way of 
all getting through by the road north of Fair View would 
be by taking three or four days' food in our haversacks and 
sending all our waggons back across the Tugela; but 
beiore we could do this we must capture the position in 
front of us. 

7. On the following day, January 20th, I placed two 
brigades and six batteries of Artillery at the disposal of 
General Sir C. F. Clery, with instructions to attack the 
Boer positions by a series of outflanking movements, and 
by the end of the day, after fighting for twelve hours, we 
were in possession of the whole part of the hills, but found 
a strongly entrenched line on the comparatively flat 
country beyond us. 

8. On the 21st the Boers displayed considerable activity 
on our left, and the Commander-in-Chief desired me to 
move two batteries from right to left. At a subsequent 
date during the day, I found it impossible to proceed 
without howitzers, and telegraphed for four from Pot- 
gieter's. These arrived early on the morning of the 22nd, 
and the Commander-in-Chief arriving about the same time, 
directed me to place two of these howitzers on the left, 
two having ah-eady been placed on the right flank. I 
pointed out to the Commander-in-Chief that it would be 



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APPENDICES 341 

impossible to get waggons through by the road leading past 
Fair View unless we first took Spion Kop, which lies within 
about 2,000 yards of the road. The Commander-in-Chief 
agreed that Spion Kop would have to be taken. Accord- 
ingly that evening orders were drawn up giving the 
necessary instructions to General Talbot Coke to take Spion 
Kop that night, but, owing to an absence of sufficient 
reconnaissance, he requested that the attack might be put 
off for a day. 

9. On the 23rd January the Commander-in-Chief came 
into camp, the attack on Spion Kop was decided upon, and 
Lieutenant-Colonel a Court, of the Headquarter Staff, was 
directed by the Commander-in-Chief to accompany General 
Woodgate, who was detailed to command the attacking 
column. The account of the capture of Spion Kop is given 
in another report. 

10. On the morning of the 25tb January the Commander- 
in-Chief arrived, decided to retire the force, and assumed 
direct command. The whole of the waggons of the 
Fifth Division were got down to the drift during the day, 
and were crossed over before 2 p.m. on January 26th. 

11. The arrangements for the retirement of the Fifth 
Division were exceedingly well got out, and the retirement 
was made in good order during the night of the 26th, the 
whole of the troops crossing to the south side of the 
Tugela before daylight, and the waggons were packed, and 
the troops bivouacked near the spruit, about two miles to 
the east of the pontoon bridges. About 10 p.m., previous 
to the retirement, heavy musketry was heard to the north 
of our position, which has been attributed to a Boer com- 
mando thinking we were going to make a night attack. 

12. I propose to forward as soon as possible a more 
detailed report of the movements of brigades and units, 
and acts of individuals. 

C. Warren, Lieut-General, 

Commanding ^th Division. 



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342 APPENDICES 

General Boiler, in forwarding Sir Charles Warren's sepa- 
rate report on the Spion Kop operations, made the following 
comments : — 

From ike General Officer Commanding, Natal, to the Secretary 
ofSiaUforWar. 

(By the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, Capetown.) 

Spearman's Hill, January 30, 1900. 

Sir, — In forwarding Lieutenant-General Sir C. Warren's 
report on the capture and evacuation of Spion Kop, I have 
the honour to offer the following observations : — 

Sir C. Warren is hardly correct in saying that he was 
only allowed three and a half days' provisions. I had told 
him that transport for three and a half days would be 
sufficient burden to him, but that I would keep him filled 
up as he wanted it. That he was aware of this is shown 
by the following telegram which he sent on the day in 
question. It is the only report I had from Sir C. Warren : — 

(Sent 7.54 p.m. Received 8.15 p.m.) 

" Left Flank, 19^ January, 
"To Chief of the Staff. 

" I find there are only two roads by which we could 
possibly get from Trichardf s Drift to Potgeiter's, on the 
north of the Tugela, one by Acton Homes, the other- by 
Fair View and Rosalie. The first I reject as too long, the 
second is a very difficult road for a large number of 
waggons unless the enemy is thoroughly cleared out. I 
am, therefore, going to adopt some special arrangements 
which will involve my stay at Venter's Laager for two or 
three days. I will send in for further supplies and report 
progress.— Warren." 

The reply to this was that three days' supply was being 
sent 



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APPENDICES 343 

I went over to Sir C. Warren on the 23rd. I pointed 
out to him that I had no further report and no intimation 
of the special arrangements foreshadowed by this telegram 
of the 19th, that for four days he had kept his men con- 
tinuously exposed to shell and rifle fire, perched on the 
edge of an almost precipitous hill, that the position 
admitted of no second line, and the supports were massed 
close behind the firing line in indefensible formations, and 
that a panic or sudden charge might send the whole lot in 
disorder down the hill at any moment. I said it was too 
dangerous a situation to be prolonged, and that he must 
either attack or I should withdraw his force. I advocated, 
as I had previously done, an advance from his left. He 
said that he had the night before ordered General Coke to 
assault Spion Kop, but the latter had objected to under- 
taking a night attack on a position the road to which he 
had not reconnoitred, and added that he intended to 
assault Spion Kop that night. 

I suggested that as General Coke was still lame from the 
effects of a lately broken leg, General Woodgate, who had 
two sound legs, was better adapted for mountain climbing. 

As no heliograph could, on account of the fire, be kept 
on the east side of Spion Kop, messages for Sir C. Warren 
were received by our signallers at Spearman and tele- 
graphed to Sir C. Warren ; thus I saw them before he did, 
as I was at the signal station. The telegram Sir C. Warren 
quotes did not give me confidence in its sender, and, at the 
moment, I could see that our men on the top had given 
way, and that efforts were being made to rally them. I 
telegraphed to Sir C. Warren : " Unless you put some 
really good hard fighting man in command on the top you 
will lose the hill. I suggest Thorneycrof t." 

The statement that a staff officer reported direct to me 
during the day is a mistake. Colonel a Court was sent 
down by General Woodgate almost as soon as he gained 
the summit. 



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344 APPENDICES 

I have not thought it necessary to order any investiga- 
tion. If at sundown the defence of the summit had been 
taken regularly in hand, entrenchments laid out, gun em- 
placements prepared, the dead removed, the wounded 
collected, and in fact the whole place brought under 
regular military command, and careful arrangements made 
for the supply of water and food to the scattered fighting 
line, the hills would have been held, I am sure. 

But no arrangements were made. General Coke appears 
to have been ordered away just as he would have t>een 
useful, and no one succeeded him ; those on the top were 
ignorant of the fact that guns were coming up, and 
generally there was a want of organisation and system 
that acted most unfavourably on the defence. 

It is admitted by all that Colonel Thorneycroft acted 
with the greatest ^llantry throughout the day, and really 
saved the situation. Preparations for the second day's 
defence should have been organised during the day, and 
have been commenced at nightfall. 

As this was not done I think Colonel Thorneycroft 
exercised a wise discretion. 

Our losses, I regret to say, were very heavy, but the 
enemy admitted to our doctors that theirs were equally 
severe, and though we were not successful in retaining the 
position, the losses inflicted on the enemy and the attack 
generally have had a marked effect on them. 

I cannot close these remarks without bearing testimony 
to the gallant and admirable behaviour of the troops. The 
endurance shown by the Lancashire Fusiliers, the Middle- 
sex Regiment, and Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry was 
admirable, while the efforts of the 2nd Battalion Scottish 
Rifles and 3rd Battalion King's Royal Rifles were equally 
good, and the Ro3ral Lancastcrs fought gallantly. 

I am writing to catch the mail, and have not any parti- 
culars yet to enable me to report more fully on details. — I 
have, &c., 

Redvers Buller. 



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APPENDICES 345 

The separate report made by Sir Charles Warren 
respecting the seizure and abandonment of Spion Kop, 
was as follows : — 



Report by LieuUnanl-General Sir Charles Warren, K.CB., 
on the capture and subsequent evacuation of Spion Kop. 

Chief of the Staff,— I make the operations against 
Spion Kop in a separate report, because they did not enter 
into my original plans. 

Under the original instructions of the General Officer 
Commanding-in-Chief, of the 15th of January, 1900, 1 was 
to act as circumstances required, but according to instruc- 
tions was generally to continue throughout refusing my 
right and throwing my left forward until I gained the open 
plain north of Spion Kop. 

On the 19th of January, on arrival at Venter's Laager, 
I assembled all the general officers, officers commanding 
Royal Artillery, and Royal Engineers of Divisions, and 
stafF officers together. I pointed out to them that with 
the three and a half (3^) days' provisions allowed, it was 
impossible to advance by the left road through Acton 
Homes. In this they unanimously concurred. I showed 
them that the only possible road was that going over Fair 
View through Rosalie, but I expressed my conviction that 
this could not be done unless we sent the whole of our 
transport back across the Tugela and attempted to march 
through with our rations in our haversacks — without 
impedimenta. 

The hills were cleared on the following day, and very 
strong entrenchments found behind them. The Com- 
mander-in-Chief was present on 21st and 22nd of January, 
and I pointed out the difficulties of marching along the 
road, accompanied by waggons, without first taking Spion 
Kop. 

Accordingly, on the night of the 22nd, I ordered General 



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346 APPENDICES 

Coke to occupy Spion Kop. He, however, desired that the 
occupation might be deferred for a day in order that he 
might make a reconnaissance with the officers commanding 
battalions to be sent there. 

On 23rd of January the Commander-in-Chief came into 
camp and told me that there were two courses open : (i) to 
attack, (2) to retire. I replied that I should prefer to 
attack Spion Kop to retiring, and showed the Commander- 
in-Chief my orders of the previous day. 

The Commander-in-Chief then desired that I should put 
General Woodgate in command of the expedition, and 
detailed Lieutenant-Colonel a Court to accompany him as 
stafF officer. 

The same evening General Woodgate proceeded with the 
Lancashire Fusiliers, the Royal Lancaster Regiment, a 
portion of Thomeycroft's Horse, and half company Royal 
Engineers, supported by two companies of the Connaught 
Rangers and by the Imperial Light Infantry, the latter 
having just arrived by Trichardt's Drift 

The attack and capture of Spion Kop was entirely suc- 
cessful. General Woodgate, having secured the summit 
on the 24th, reported that he had entrenched a position, 
and hoped he was secure, but that the fog was too thick 
to permit him to see. The position was rushed without 
casualties, other than three men wounded. 

Lieutenant-Colonel a Court came down in the morning 
and stated that ever^hing was satisfactory and secure, 
and telegraphed to the Commander-in-Chief to that effect. 
Scarcely had he started on his return to headquarters 
when a heliogram arrived from Colonel Crofton (Royal 
Lancaster). The message was : " Reinforce at once or all 
lost. General dead." 

He also sent a similar message to headquarters. I 
immediately ordered General Coke to proceed to his 
assistance, and to take command of the troops. He started 



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APPENDICES 347 

at once and was accompanied by the Middlesex and 
Dorsetshire Regiments. 

I replied to Colonel Crofton : " I am sending two bat- 
talions, and the Imperial Light Infantry are on their way 
up. You must hold on to the last. No surrender." 

This occurred about lo a.m. 

Shortly afterwards I received a telegram from the 
Commander-in-Chief ordering me to appoint Lieutenant- 
Colonel Thorneycroft to the command of the sunmiit. I 
accordingly had heliographed : " With the approval of the 
Commander-in-Chief, I place Lieutenant-Colonel Thorney- 
croft in command of the summit, with the local rank of 
Brigadier-General." 

For some hours after this message I could get no infor- 
mation from the summit. It appears that the signallers 
and their apparatus were destroyed by the heavy fire. 

I repeatedly asked for Colonel Thorneycroft to state 
his view of the situation. At 1.20 p.m. I heliographed to 
ascertain whether Colonel Thorneycroft had assumed 
command, and at the same time asked General Coke to 
give me his views on the situation on Spion Kop. Still 
getting no reply, I asked whether General Coke was there, 
and subsequently received his view of the situation. He 
stated that unless the artillery could silence the enemy's 
guns, the men on the summit could not stand another 
complete day's shelling, and that the situation was ex- 
tremely critical. 

At 6.30 p.m. I asked if he could keep two battalions on the 
summit, removing the remainder out of reach of shells, also 
whether two battalions would suffice to hold the sunmiit ; 
this was in accordance with a telegram on the subject sent 
me by the Commander-in-Chief. Later in the evening I 
made arrangements to send two (Naval) 12-pounders and 
the Mountain Battery, Royal Artillery, to the sunmiit, to- 
gether with half company Royal Engineers (and working 
parties, two reliefs of six hundred men each), to strengthen 



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348 APPENDICES 

the entrenchments and provide shell covers for the men. 
I may here mention that the 17th Company Royal Engineers 
proceeded at the same time as General Woodgate's force, 
and were employed until daylight on the entrenchments, 
then on road making and water supply. 

Sandbags were sent up early on the 24th inst. 

While Colonel Sim was, with this party, ascending the 
hill, he met Colonel Thorneycroft descending, having 
evacuated the position. 

I wish to bring to notice that I heard from all but one 
expression of the admirable conduct and bravery shown by 
officers and men sufiering under a withering artillery fire 
on the summit of the slopes, and also of those who, with so 
much endurance, persisted in carrying up water and food 
and ammunition to the troops during this day. 

During the day a sta£F officer of the headquarter staff 
was present on the summit, and reported direct to the 
Commander-in-Chief. 

At sunset I considered that the position could be held 
next day provided that guns could be mounted and effective 
shelter provided. Both of these conditions were about to 
t>e fulfilled, as already mentioned. 

In the absence of General Coke, whom I ordered to come 
to report in person as to the situation, the evacuation took 
place under orders, given on his own responsibility, by 
Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft. This occurred in the 
face of the vigorous protests of General Coke's brigade- 
major, the officer commanding the Middlesex Regiment, 
and others. 

It is a matter for the Commander-in-Chief to decide 
whether there should be an investigation into the question 
of the unauthorised evacuation of Spion Kop. 

Charles Warren, LieutenanUGeneraL 



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APPENDICES 349 

CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE WAR OFFICE 
AND LORD ROBERTS. 

The following telegrams relating to the publication of the 
Spion Kop despatches were issued by the War Office, on 
May 3, 1900 : — 

From the Secretary of State for War to Field-Marshal Lord 
Roberts. 
Tel. No. 170, March 28, 1900. 

What do you propose as to publication of Spion Kop 
despatches ? Please see my telegram to Buller No. 605 of 
5th January and No. no of 6th February. Description of 
a despatch given in the latter has been quoted in Parliament. 

We cannot publish all the documents enclosed with your 
despatch of 13th February. We might, perhaps, publish 
the following : — 

(i) Your despatch of 13th February. 

(2) Buller*s report of 30th January. 

(3) Warren's report dated Matting's Farm, 29th January. 

(4) BuUer's letter dated Spearman's Hill, 30th January, 
covering Warren's report on Spion Kop. 

(5) Warren's separate report on Spion Kop. 

But I do not feel justified in thus editing the papers 
unless you concur, and 3WU may, perhaps, think well to 
refer to Buller. 

I suggest as an alternative that we should treat your 
despatch of 13th February and all its enclosures as confi- 
dential, and that Buller should send, through you, a full 
narrative of the operations. This you could forward to me 
with any observations you desured to make for publication. 

From Field-Marshal Lord Roberts to the Secretary of State for 
War, (Received ist April) 
Tel. No. 360, Bloempontein, March 31, 1900. 
With reference to your telegram No. 170, dated 28th 
March regarding the Spion Kop despatches, I have sug- 



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350 APPENDICES 

gested to BuUer that he should prepare a full narrative of 
the operations in accordance with the instructions conveyed 
in your telegram No. no of 6th February. He has replied 
as follows : — 

" I do not at all like the idea of rewriting a despatch for 
publication. I much prefer to leave it in the hands of the 
Commander-in-Chief and let him select for publication 
whatever he thinks proper." 

I have no objection to publication of the paper with 
omissions specified by you. It might perhaps be better to 
overrule Buller's objection and adopt alternative course 
which you suggest. Wire reply. 

From the Secretary of State for War to Field-Marshal Lord 
Roberts, 

Tel. No. 174, April 2, 190a 
Your No. 360. In view of Buller's objection I abandon 
proposal that despatch should be rewritten. I propose to 
publish selection described in my telegram No. 170. 

From Field-Marshal Lord Roberts to the Secretary of State 
for War. 
Tel. No. 400, Bloemfontein, April 6, 1900. 
Your No. 174. I agree to my despatch of 13th February 
t>eing published. 

The following are the despatches referred to above : — 

From the Secretary of State for War to General Sir Redvers 

Buller. 

Tel. No. 605, January 5, 1900. 
The only despatches received up to the present time, 
which, in my opinion, could properly be presented are 
yours of 2nd December, covering Hildyard's of 24th 
Noveml)er, and yours of 9th November covering White's 
of 2nd November. I am not disposed to publish your 



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APPENDICES 351 

earlier despatches, which contain reviews of the situation 
and forecasts of your intentions. 

But we should have for presentation as soon as can 
conveniently be managed despatches from you covering 
reports from your Generals as to each of the engagements 
which have taken place. 

From the Commander-in-Chief to Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, 
Tel. No. no War Office, February 6, 1900. 
You will, I feel sure, agree with me that Lord Methuen's 
despatch of the Magersfontein engagement could not be 
published as sent. There are passages in it inappropriate 
to such documents, and it also gives information of import- 
ance to the enemy. A despatch should be a complete 
account, and should not contain reports from subordinate 
commanders or other documents. Paragraphs should be 
numbered, and all names of officers selected for praise 
should be in one paragraph, trivial details being omitted. 
If he would like me to revise the despatch in question I 
will do so, but as I should prefer not to undertake this 
responsibility, I suggest you should ask him to cancel this 
despatch and write another. 



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Ube OrcBbam ^cm 

UNWIN BROTHBRSk 
WOKINQ AND LONDON. 



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A CATALOGUE OF BOOKS 

AND ANNOUNCEMENTS OF 

METHUEN AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS : LONDON 

36 ESSEX STREET 

W.C. 

CONTENTS 



rOXTHCOMING BOOXSj 

rpsmT, .... 

bbllss lbttres, anthologibs, btc, 
mbthuen's standard library, 
illd8tratsd and gift books. 

HISTORT, ..... 
BVZANTINS TXXTS, 

BIOGRAPHT, .... 
TRAVSLi ADVKMTURB AND TOPOGRAPHY, 
NAYAL AND MILITARY, 
GSMKRAL UTSSATDRK, 
PHILOSOPHY, .... 
THXOLOGY, .... 

riCTlON, .... 

BOOKS FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, . 
THB PBACOCK LIBRARY, 
UNIYKUITY RXTBNSION SRRIBS, 
SOCLAL QUSSTIOMS OF TO-DAY 
CLASSICAL TRANSLATIONS, . 
BDUCATIONAL BOOKS, 



»3 

15 
16 

18 
»9 



q6 
35 

35 
35 
36 
37 
37 



FEBRUARY 1900 



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February 1900 



Messrs. Methuen's 

ANNOUNCEMENTS 



Travel, Adventure and Topography 

THROUGH ASIA. By Sven Hedin. With 300 Illustrations 
from Photognphsand Sketches hy the Author, and 3 Maps. Second 
and cheaper Edition in 16 Fortnightly Parts at is. each net ; or in 
two volumes. Royal %vo, 20s, net. 
An extract firom a review of this great book, which The Timu has called * one of the 
best books of the century,' willbe found on p. 17. The present form of issue places 
it within the reach of buyers of moderate means. 

THE BOER STATES. A History and Description of the 
Transvaal and the Orange Free State. By A H. Kbanb, M.A. 
With Map. Crown $vo. 6s. 
This volume aims at giving, in a form suitable for permanent reference, an accurate 
account of the Two Boer Stales as constituted before the present war. The subject 
is treated under two main divisions— Land and Pboplb— the former ^ttgrmj^kiaU 
and tUscriptwe, the latter kistcriaU and tthtiogra^kic. The book is written in 
the interest neither of Boer nor Briton, and all political topics are dealt with from 
the standpoint of the onlooker. In the first part much attention is paid to the 
natural resources of the Country. Historical events dose with the Rruger>Milner 
Conference, June 1899. 

THE STORY OF THE BOER WAR. With Maps, Plans, and 

Portraits. In Fortnightly Parts. Quarto, is, each. 
This important work will be commenced in parts inunediately, and will giv« a 

complete and connected account of the military operations in South Africa frxNu 

the declaration to the end of the present war. 
Such a work, relating in a lively, accurate, and intelligible manner the events of a 

war which is stirrmg the British people as no evenU have stirred them since the 

Indian Mutiny, is certMn to meet a cordial reception. 
Each part is well illustrated with plans and portraits. 

History and Biography 

A HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF CYPRUS. By John 
Hackett, M.A. With Maps and Illustrations. Demy Sio. 12s. 
6d, net. 
A work which brings together all that is known on the subject from the introduction 
of Christianity to the commencement of the British occuiMition. A separar- 
division deals with the local Latin Church during the period of the Wester 
Supremacy. 



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A HISTORY OF EGYPT, FROM THE Earliest Times to 
THE Present Day. Edited by W. M. Flinders Petrie, D.C.L., 
LL.D., Professor of Egyptology at University College. Fully Illus- 
trated. In Six Volumes. Crown Svo. 6s. each. 
Vol. VI. Egypt under the Saracens. By Stanley Lane- 
Poole. 



Theology 



ST. PAUL'S SECOND AND THIRD EPISTLES TO THE 
CORINTHIANS. With Introduction, Dissertations, and Notes by 
Tames Houghton Kennedy, D.D., Assistant Lecturer in Divinity 
m the University of Dublin. Sometime Donnellan Lecturer, etc. etc. 
Crown Zvo. 6s, 

THE SOUL OF A CHRISTIAN. By F. S. Granger, M.A., 
Litt.D. Crown Svo, 6s, 

Zbc Cbutcbman'0 JSlble 

General Editor, J. H. Burn, 6.D., Examining Chaplain to the Bishop 
of Aberdeen. 

Messrs. Mbthubn propose to issue a series of expositions upon most 
of the books of the Bible. The volumes will be practical and devotional 
rather than critical in their purpose, and the text of the authorised version 
will be explained in sections or pars^aphs, which will correspond as far 
as possible with the divisions of the Church Lectionary. 

The volumes will be produced in a very handy and tasteful form, and 
may be obtained in cloth or leather bindings. 

THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE 
PHILIPPIANS. Explained by C. R. D. Biggs, B.D. Fcap. 
Svo. IS. 6d. net; leathery 2s. 6d. net. 

Zbc CbU¥Cbman'0 Xlbvati? 

Edited by J. H. Burn, B.D. 

EVOLUTION. By F. B. JKVONS, Litt. D., Principal of Hatfield 
Hall, Durham. Craam Svo, 35. 6d. 

Sbe Xlbtati? ot Devotion 

PoU 2mo. Chth 2s. ; leather 2s. 6d. net. 
NEIV VOLUME. 

A GUIDE TO ETERNITY. By Cardinal Bona. Edited 
with an Introduction and Notes b^ J. W. Stanbridgb, B.D., late 
Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford. 



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4 Messrs. Methuen's Announcements 
Classical 

THE NICOMACHEAN ETHICS OF ARISTOTLE. Edited, 
wilh an Introduction and Notes bj John Burnet, M.A., Professor 
of Greek at St. Andrews. Demyivo. i^, net. 

This edition oHitains panllel passages from the Eiidemian Ethics, printed nader the 
text, and there is a full commentmry, the main object of which is to interpret 
difficulties in the light of Aristotle's own rules. 

THE CAPTIVI OF PLAUTUS. Edited, with an Introduction, 
Textual Notes, and a Commentary, by W. M. Lindsay, Fellow of 
Jesus College, Oxford. Demy 8w. lOf. 6d, net. 

For this edition all the important mss. have been re<oolIated. An appendix deals 
with the accentual element in eariy Latin verse. The Commentary is very fulL 

^itotb Cla00(cal Zcx^b 

Crown 9vo. 
Messrs. Mbthuen are about to publish in conjunction with the 
Clarendon Press a series of classical texts edited by competent scholars 
from the best mss. The first volumes are : — 

THUCYDIDIS HISTORIAE, LiBRi I.-IV. By H. Stuart 
J ONES. J'aper Covers, y. Limp Clothy 31. 6rf, 

PLATONIS OPERA, Tom. I. (Tetralogiae I,-II.) By J. 
BURNBT. JPaper Covers^ $s. Limp Cloth, 6s. 

LVCRETI CARI DE RERVM NATVRA. By C. Bailey. 
Faper Covers, 2s. 6d. Limp Cloth, 3/. 

CORNELII TACITI OPERA MINORA. By H. Furneaux. 
Paper Covers, is. 6d. Limp Cloth, 2s, 

AESCHYLI TRAGOEDIAE CUM FRAGMENTIS. By A. 
S IDG WICK. Paper Covers, y. Limp Cloth, 3^. 6d, 



Spoi 



)rt 
ZTbe Xibraq^ of Sport 

THE ART AND PRACTICE OF HAWKING. By E. B. 
MiCHELL. With three Photogravures by G. E. Lodge, and other 
Illustrations. Demy %vo. los. 6d. 

A complete descrt{>tion of the Hawks, Falcons, and Eaglet used in ancient and 
modern times, with directions for their training and treatment. It is not only a 
historical account, but a complete practical guide. 

General Literature 

TENNYSON AS A RELIGIOUS TEACHER. By CHARLES 
F. G. Mastbrman, M.A. Crown Sev. 6s» 



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Messrs* Methuen's Announcements 5 

AN ANTHOLOGY OF IRISH VERSE. Edited by W. B. 
Ys ATS. Crown $vCf gilt top. 3^. dd. Revised and onlargld edition, 
' An attractive and catholic selection.' — Time*. 

A HANDBOOK OF NURSING. By M. N. OXFORD, of 
Guy's Hospital. Crown Stv. y, 6d, 
This is a complete guide to the science and art of nursing, containing copious 
instruction both general and particular. 

Methuen's Standard Library 

the decline AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. 
By Edward Gibbon. Edited by J. B. Bury, LL.D., Fellow of 
Trinity College, DublizL In Seven Volumes. Demy ^vo, gilt top, 
&. ed. each. Crown $vo. 6s, each. Vol, VII. 
The concluding Volume of this Edition. 

THE HISTORY OF THE LIFE OF THOMAS ELLWOOD. 
Edited by C. G. Crump, B. A. Crown 8»<?, gilt top, 6s, 

THE EARLY POEMS OF ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON. 
Edited, with Notes and Introduction by J. Churton Collins, M. A. 
Crown Svo, 6s. 
An elaborate edition of the celebrated volumes which was published in its final and 
definitive form in 1853. This edition contains a long Introduction and copious 
Notes, textual and explanatory. 

Scientific and Educational 

THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF SCENERY. By J. E. Marr, 
Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. With numerous illustra- 
tions and diagrams. Crown ^0. 6s, 
An elementary treatise on geomorphoIojKy— the study of the earth's outward forms. 
It is for the use of students of physical geography and geology » and will also be 
highly interesting to the general reader. 

EDUCATIONAL REFORM. By Fabian Ware, M.A. 
Crown SzHi. 2s. 6d, 
An attempt by an expert to forecast the action and influence of the New Secondary 
Education Act, with suggestions for useful developments. 

THE STORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE. By Emma S. 
Mellows. Crown Svo, y, 6d. 

The history of English literature told in a simple st^le for young students. It is 
particularly rich in biographical detail and oontauis a considerable number of 
illustrative extracts. 

THE CONSTRUCTION OF LARGE INDUCTION COILS. 
By A. T. Hare, M.A. With numerous diagrams. Demy Svo. 6s, 

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF MILLINERY. By 
Miss Hill, Registered Teacher to the City and Guilds of London 
Institute. With numerous diagrams. Crown Svo, 2s, 6d. 

{Text-books of Technology 



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6 Messrs. Methuen's Announcements 

EXPERIMENTAL CHEMISTRY. By W. French, M.A. 
Fart I. With numeroos diagrams. Crown 8cw. ix. 6d. 

[ Text^booki tf TeekMsiegy 

LACE-MAKING IN THE MIDLANDS, PAST AND 
PRESENT. By C. C. Channer and M. E. Roberts. With i6 
full-page illustntdons. Crown 8zw. 2s. 6d. 

THE METRIC SYSTEM. By Leon Delbos. Crown%vo. is. 

A theoretical and practical guide, for use in elementary ichoob and by iht geoeni 

reader. 

A SOUTH AFRICAN ARITHMETIC. By Henry Hill, 
B.A., Assistant Master at Worcester School, Cape Colony. Crown 
Sfv. 3J. ed. 
This book has been specially written for use in South African schools. 

A KEY TO STED MAN'S EASY LATIN EXERCISES. By 
C G. BOTTING, M.A. Crown Stfo. 31. m/. 

XLbc mopeld of CbatlCB S>iclien0 

With Introductions by George Gissing, Notes by F. G. Kitton, 
and Illustrations. 

Crown 8cv. £acA Volume^ cloth 31. nUy Uather 4s. 6d. net. 

The first volumes are : 

THE PICKWICK PAPERS. With Illustrations by E. H. New. 
Two Volumes, 

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. With Illustrations by R. J. Williams. 
Two Volumes, 

BLEAK HOUSE. With Illustrations by Beatrice Alcock. Tmo 
Volumes. 

OLIVER TWIST. With Illustrations by E. H. New. One Volume, 

tn>e little Xibraci? 

With Introductions, Notes, and Photogravure Frontispieces. 
Pott ^vo. Each Volume, cloth is, bd, net, ; leather 2s, 6d, net. 
NE1V VOLUMES, 

THE EARLY POEMS OF ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON. 
Edited by J. C. Collins, M.A. 

IN MEMORIAM. By Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Edited by 
H. C Bbeching, M.A. 

MAUD. By Alfred, Lord Tennyson. With Introduction 
and Notes by Elizabeth Wordsworth. 

A LITTLE BOOK OF ENGLISH LYRICS. With Notes, 



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Messrs. Methuen's Announcements 7 

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. By Jane Austen. With an 
Introduction and Notes by E. V. Lucas. Two Volumes, 

PENDENNIS. By W. M. Thackeray. With an Introduction 
by S. GWYNN. Thru volunus, 

EOTHEN. By A. W. Kinglake. With an Introduction and 

Notes. 

CRANFORD. By Mrs. Gaskell. With an Introduction and 
Notes by E. V. LucAS. 

THE INFERNO OF DANTE. Translated by H. F. Cary. 
With an Introduction and Notes by Paget Toynbbb. 

JOHN HALIFAX, GENTLEMAN. By Mrs. Craik. With 
an Introduction by Annie Mathbson. Two volumes, 

A LITTLE BOOK OF SCOTTISH VERSE. Arranged and 
Edited by T. F. Hendbeson. 



Fiction 

THE GATELESS BARRIER. By Lucas Malet, Author of 
* The Wages of Sin.' Crown ^o. 6s. 

AN OCTAVE. By W. E. NORRIS. Crown Zvo. dr. 

A volume of eight stories. 

THE PLUNDERERS. By MORLEY ROBERTS, Author of * The 
Colossus,' etc. Crown Zvo. 6s, 



CEASE FIRE. By J. Maclaren Cobban. Crov/n Zvo, y,6d, 

. stirring storv of thi 
defeat of Majuba. 



A stirring storv of the Boer War of z8Si, iacluding the siege of Potchefstrom and the 
' * ' Mail ' 



THE DESPATCH RIDER. By Ernest Glanville. Author 
of ' The Kloof Bride.' Crown Zvo, 6s, 

A highly interesting story of the present Boer War by an author who knovrs the 
country well, and has had experience of Boer campaigning. 

FOR RIGHT AND ENGLAND. By Hume Nisbet. Crown 
Zvo. 6s, 

A story of the Transvaal War of 1899. 



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S Messrs. Methuen*s Announcements 

MARVELS AND MYSTERIES. By Richard Marsh, Atithar 
of * The Beetle. ' Crown 8tw. 6f . 

MIRRY-ANN. By Norma Lorimer, Author of < Josiah's Wife.' 
Crcwn Stw. &s. 

THE STRONG GOD CIRCUMSTANCE. By Helen Ship- 
TON. Crown Svo, 6s, 

AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY. By Esut Stuart. Crown 
Svo, 6f. 

A SON OF THE STATE. By W. Pett Ridge. Author of 
* Mord Em*ly,' Crown Szw. ^s. 6d, 

THE INCA'S TREASURE. By ERNEST Glanville, Aathor 
of • The Kloof Bride. ' Crown Snw. p. 6d, 

Ube Dopelidt 

a monthly series of new novels by popalar authors at Sixpence. Eadi 
Number u as long as the average Six Shilling Novel. Numbers I. to 
VII. are now ready, and No. VIII. will be : — 

PRISONERS OF WAR. By Boyson Wbbkes. 



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A CATALOGUE OF 

Messrs. Methuen's 

PUBLICATIONS 



Poetry 



•sf; 



RudyardEillllxiir- BARRACK-ROOM 
BALLADS. By Rudyard Kipling. 
6^rtl Thousand. Crown Svo. 6s. 
Ltather^ 6s, net, 
* Mr. Kipling's verse is strong, vivid, fall 
of character. . . . Unmistakeable genius 
rings in every line.'— TYwrw. j 

' The ballads teem with imagination, they | 
palpiute with emotion. We read them • 
witn laughter and tears ; the metres throb 
in our pulses^ the cunningly ordered , 
words tingle with life ; and tf this be not ' 
poetry, what is ? '—Pail Mall GazeiU. 

Endyard Kipling. THE SEVEN 
SEAS. By Rudyard Kipling. ' 
55/A Thousand, Cr. Svo. Buckram, I 
nit top, 6s. Leather^ 6s. net. 
The Empire has found a singer ; it is no 
depreciation of the songs to say that I 
sutesmen may have, one way or other, < 
to take account .of i^m' — Manchester \ 
Guardian, ' 

'Animated through and through with in* I 

dubiuble genius.'— Z7«A> Telegraph, 
••a" POEMS AND BALLADS. By. 
"Q." Crown ^vo, ^s,6d, 

* This work has j ust the faint, ineffable touch ' 

and glow that make poetTy,'Speaher. , 
••a" GREEN BAYS: Verses and I 

Parodies. By"Q." Second Edition. \ 

Crown Bvo. 3J. 6d, 
S. Ifaokay. A SONG OF THE SEA. 1 

By Eric Mackay. Second Edition. 

Fcap, 8iw. v. 

* Everywhere Mr. Mackay dispUys himself 

the master of a style marked oy all the 
characteristics of the best rhetoric.'- 
Globe, 

A 



H. Ibflen. BRAND. A Drama by 
Henrik Ibsen. Translated by 
William Wilson. Third Edition, 
Crown %vo, y. 6d, 

' The greatest world-poem of the nineteenth 
century next to "Faust" It is in the 
same set with "Agamemnon," with 
" Lear," with the literature that we now 
instinctively resard as high and holy.' — 
Daily Chronicle. 

A.D. Oodley. LYRAFRIVOLA. By 
A. D. GoDLEY, M.A., Fellow of 
Magdalen College, Oxford. Third 
Edition, Pott 8vo, ar. 6d, 

'A pretty and witty little book.'— /*«// 
Mall Gazette, 

'Combines a pretty wit with remarkably 
neat versification. . . . Every one will 
wish there was more of it.— 7iw«. 

A.D.Ck>dle7. VERSES TO ORDER. 
By A. D. GiODLEY. Crown Bvo, 
ar. 6d, net, 

'A capital specimen of light academic 
poetry.'— >$"/. /amee's Gaaette, 

James Wimams. VENTURES IN 
VERSE. By James Williams, 
Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. 
Crown Bvo, y. 6d, 

* In matter and manner the book is admlr* 
ahlc'—Gia^iow Herald, 

J, O. Cordery. THE ODYSSEY OF 
HOMER. A Translation by J. G. 
Cordery. Crown Svo, js, 6d, 

2 



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10 



Messrs. Methuen's Catalogue 



Belles Lettres, Anthologies, etc. 



B. L. Btewuon. VAILIMA LET- ; 
TERS. By Robert Louis Steven- | 
SON. With an Etched Portrait by 
William Strang. SscondEdUicn, 
Crawtt Zvo, Buckram. 6s, 

' A fuciiMiting hook.* Statiddnl. 

' Full of charm and hnghtneB.9,'^SUciaiar, 

* Unique in Literature. —Z^os/^ CHronicU. 

awyndbam. THE POEMS OF WIL- 
LIAM SHAKESPEARE. Edited 
with an Introduction and Notes by 
George Wyndham, M.P. Dtmy 
8vo. Buckram^ gilt top. los. 6d. 

This edition oontaini the * Venns,' * Locxece,' 
and Sonnets, and is prefaced with an 
elaborate introduction of over 140 pp. 

' We have no hesitation in describing Mr. 
George Wyndhan's introdoctioii as a 
masterly piece of criticism, and all who 
love our Eliaibethan literature will find a 
very garden of delight in it. '—Speeiat^. 

W. B. Henley. ENGLISH LYRICS. 
Selected and Edited by W. E. 
Henley. Crvwn 8vo. Gilt top, 
y.6d. 

* It is a body of choice and lovely poetry.'— 

Birmuikam Gmaettt. 

Bmil»7 and WMbley. A BOOK OF 
ENGLISH PROSE. Collected by 
W. E. Henley and Charles 
Whibley. Crown Stto. Buckram, 
gilt top. 6s. 

* Quite delishtful. A greater treat for those 

not well acquaint^ wUh pre-Restora- 
tion prose could not be imagined.'— 
AtAtn^tum, 

H. a Beedllng. LYRA SACRA: An 
Anthology of Sacred Verse. Edited 
by H, C. Beeching, M.A Crown 
Zvo. Buckram, 6s, 

*A charming selection, which maintains a 
lofty standard of excellence.'— 7Vi««r«. 

«0." THE GOLDEN POMP. A Pro- 

cession of English Lyrics. Arranged 

by A. T. Quiller Couch, Crown 

8tw. Buckram. 6s, 

'A delightful volume: a really golden 

**V<mp*"*—Spectmior. 



W.B. Teatl. AN ANTHOLOGY OF 

IRISH VERSE. Edited by W. R 

Yeats. Revistd and MnUrged 

Edition, Crown ^vo. y. ^d. 

'An attractive and catholic selectkm.'— 

Tiput. 

a W. Steereni. MONOLOGUES OF 
THE DEAD. By G. W. Stkkteks. 
Foolscap %vo, ST. 6d, 
*The effect is sometimes splendidf aane- 
times bizarre, but always •maringly 
aewr:—P»ll MmU GoMetU. 
W. K. Dixon. A PRIMER OF 
TENNYSON. By W. M. DixoK. 
M.A. Cr, Svo. 2x. 6d. 
' Much sound and well*e3tpressed critidss. 
The bibliography is a boon.* — Sptnkrr. 
W. A. Onigle. A PRIMER OF 
BURNS. By W. A. Ckaigie. 
Crown Svo. ax. 6d. 
' A valuable addition to the literature o£ the 
poet.' — Timts, 
LKagnos. A PRIMER OF WORDS- 
WORTH. By LAimis Magnus. 
Crown Svo. ax. 6d. 
' A valuable contribution to Wordswovthiaz 
literature. ' — Literaturt, 

Sterne. THE LIFE AND OPINIONS 
OF TRISTRAM SHANDY. By 
Lawrence Sterne. With an In- 
troduction by Charles Whiblet, 
and a Portrait a vols, 71. 



' Very dainty volumes are these : the paper. 
type, and light-green binding are ailvtf} 
agreeable to the eye.'— (T^Iam. 



very 



CongreTe. THE COMEDIES OF 
WILLIAM CONGREVE. With an 
Introduction by G. S. Street, and 
a Portrait, a vols. js. 

Morler. THE ADVENTURES OF 
HAJJI BABA OF ISPAHAN. Br 
James Morier. With an Introdnc- 
tion hj E G. Browne, M.A. and a 
Portrait, a vols. js. 

Walton. THE LIVES OF DONNE, 
WOTTON. HOOKER, HERBERT 
AND SANDERSON. By Izaak 
Walton. With an Introduction by 
Vernon Blackburn, and a Por- 
trait 3x. 6d. 



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II 



JotalUKm. THE LIVES OF THE 
ENGLISH POET& By Samuel 
Johnson, LL.D. With an Intro- 
Quctlon by J. H. Millas, and a Por-. 
trait 3 vols, los. 6d, 

Bmna. THE POEMS OF ROBERT 
BURNS. Edited by Andrew Lang 
and W. A. Csaigib. With Portrait. 
Second Edttton, Demy Svo, gilt top. 

'Among editions in one irolame, this will 
take the place of authority.' — Times, 



F. Laoglirldffei BALLADS OF THE 
BRAVE ; Poems of Chivalry, Enter- 
prise, Courage, and Constancy. 
Edited hv Rev. F. Langbridge. 
Second Edition, Cr. Svo» y. 6d, 
School Edition, 2J. 6d, 

'A very happy conception happQy carried 
oat. These "Ballads of the Brave" 
are intended to suit the real tastes of 
boys, and will suit the taste of the great 
nuyority.' ■—S^ecitti^r, 

'The book is full of splendid things.'— 
n^orld. 



Methuen's Standard Library 



Dante. LA COMMEDIA DI 
DANTE ALIGHIERI. Edited by 
Paget Toynbee, M.A. Crown 
%vo, 6s, 

This edition of the Italian text of the Divine 
Comedy, founded on Witte's minor 
edition, carefully revised, is issued in 
commemoration of the sixth century of 
Dante's journey through the three king- 
doms of the other world. 

•A carefully^revised text, printed with 
beautiful clearness.'— <7/<(ur^Mv Herald. 

GlbtMm. THE DECLINE AND 
FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. 
By Edward Gibbon. A New Edi- 
tion, Edited with Notes, Appendices, 



and Maps, by J. B. Bury, LL.D., 
Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. 
In Seven Volumes, Demy Bvo. Gilt 
top, 8 J. 6d, each. Also Cr. 8tw. dr. 
each. Vols, /„ //., ///., /r., K, and 
VI, 

* The time has certainly arrived for a new 
edition of Gibbon's great work. . . . Pro- 
fessor Bury is the right man to under- 
take this task. His learning is amaang, 
both in extent and accuracy. The book 
is issued in a handv form, and at a 
moderate price, and it u admirably 
printed. '— Times, 

' At last there b an adequate modem edition 
of Gibbon. . . . Tlie best edition the 
nineteenth century could produce.' — 
AfancAester Guardimn, 



Zbc TKIlovlid ot SbaftcBpeate 

General Editor, Edward Dowden, Litt. D. 
Messrs. Mbthubn have in preparation an Edition of Shakespeare in 
single Plays. Each play will be edited with a full Introduction, Textual 
Notes, and a Commentary at the foot of the page. 
The first volume is : 



HAMLET. 
Dowden. 



Edited by Edward 
DemySvo, y, 6d. 



'An admirable edition. ... A comely 
volume, admirably printed and produced, 



and containing aU that a student of 
* Hamlet ' need require.' — Spe€iker, 

' No previous edition known to us contains 
so much information in so agreeable an 
outward form.' — Daily Chronicle. 

' Fully up to the level of recent scholarship, 
both English and German. — Academy,^ 



Z\sz movela ot Cbatles Dfcfiena 

Crown Svo, Each Volume ^ cloth y, net ; leather 45. 6d, net, 
Messrs. Methuen have in preparation an edition of those novels of Charles 
Dickens which have now pused out of copyright. Mr. George Gissing, 
whose critical study of Dickens is both sympathetic and acute, has written an 



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Introduction to each of the books, and a very attractive featnre of thiseditioQ 
will be the illustrations of the old houses, inns, and buildings, which Dickens 
described, and which have now in many instances disappeared under the 
touch of modem civilisation. Another Suable featnre will be a series of 
topographical and general notes to each book by Mr. F. G. Kitton. The books 
will be produced with the greatest care as to printing, paper and binding. 

The fitst volumes are : 
THE PICKWICK PAPERS. With Illustrations by E. H. New. Two Volumes. 
* As pleasant a copy as any one could desire. The notes add much to the vahie of the 

edition, and Mr. New's illustrations are also historical* The vohunes promise vtU 

for the success of the edition.' — Scotsman, 



VOiC lAttlc Xibntq^ 

'The volumes are compact in size, printed on thin but good paper in cJcar type, 
prettily and at the same time strongly bound, and altogether good to look npon and 
handle.'— C7»//^Mk. 

Poit Svo. Each Volume, cloth u. 6d, tuty lecUher 2s, 6d, net, 

Messrs. Methubn intend to produce a series of small books under tht 
above title, containing some of the famous books in English and other 
literatures, in the domains of fiction, poetiy, and belles lettres. The series 
will also contain several volumes of selections in prose and verse. 

The books will be edited with the most sympathetic and scholarly caie. 
Each one will contain an Introduction which will give (i) a short biogimphyof 
the author, (2) a critical estimate of the book. Where they are necessaiy, 
short notes will be added at the foot of the pa^e. 

Each book will have a portrait or frontispiece in photograyure, and the 
volumes will be produced with great care in a style uniform with that of ' T^ 
Library of Devotion.* 

The first volumes are : 

THE PRINCESS. By Alfred, LoKr 
Tennyson. Edited by EIuzabett: 
Wordsworth. Illustrated by W. 
E. F. Britten. 

'Just what a pocket edition should be. 
Miss Wordsworth contributes an acoert 
able introduction, as well as notes wtud: 
one b equally glad to get. > ~ 



VANITY FAIR. By W. M. Thack- 
eray. With an Introduction by S. 
GWYNN. Illustrated by G. P. 
Jacomb Hood. Thru Volumes. 

' Delightful little volumes.'— Pw^/rVArrj' 
Circular. 

'Charming little volumes with an admir- 
able introduction.'— tS'/or. 



Sbe Xittle Cuidea 



Pott Sfj, cloth y. ; 

OXFORD AND ITS COLLEGES. 
By J. Wells, M.A, Fellow and 
Tutor of Wadham College. Illus- 
trated by E. H. New. Third Edition. 
* An admirable and accurate little treatise, 

attractively illustrated.' — World. 
'Aluminous and tasteful little volume.*^ 
Daily Chronicle. 



leather, 31. 6d. tut. 

CAMBRIDGE AND ITS COL- 
LEGES. By A. Hamilton Thomf- 
SON. Illustrated by E. H. New. 

' It is brightly written and learned, and c^ 
just such a book as a cultured vmtv 
n^t^'— Scotsman. 



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SHAKESPEARE'S COUNTRY. By 
R C. WiNDLB. F.R.S., M.A. Illus- 
trated by E. H. New. 

' Mr. Windle is thoroughly conversant with 
his subject, and the work is exceedingly 
well done. The drawings, by Mr. 
Edmund H. New, add much to the 



attractiveness of the vo\ume.'—ScoiS' 

man. 
' One of the most charming guide books. 

Both for the library and as a travelling 

companion the book is equally choice 

and serviceable.'— ^cA/r»i> 
'A guide book of the best kind, which 

takes rank as literature.'— (HMn^ai*. 



Illustrated and Gift Books 



PWl Mfcy. THE PHIL MAY 

ALBUM. 4fo. 6s. 
This highly interesting volume contains zoo 
drawings by Mr. Phil May. and is repre- 
sentative of his earliest and finest work. 
'There is a laugh in each drawing.' — 
Stasidard* 
A. H. MUne. ULYSSES; OR, D£ 
ROUGEMONT OF TROY. De- 
scribed and depicted by A. H. Milne. 
Small quarto, %s, 6a, 
The adventures of Ulysses, told in humor- 
ous verse and pictures. 
' A delicious bit of fooling.*— ^ittffw. 

* Clever, droll, smart.'— CrMamraw. 

Edmund Sdloufl. TOMMY SMITH'S 

ANIMALS. By Edmund Selous. 

Illustrated by G. W. Ord, Fcap, Bvo. 

as, 6d, 

A little book designed to teach children 

respect and reverence for animals. 
'A most fascinating little natural history 

\)OoV,*^Lady, ^ 
'A little book which calls for more than 
praise; it is one to be grateful for.'— 
World, 

* A quaint, fascinating little book : a nur- 

sery classic '—A thenetum, 

8. Barinc: Oonld. THE CROCK OF 
GOLD. Fairy Stories told by S. , 
Baring Gould. Crown 8zv. ts. j 
' Twelve delightful (airy ta\i»:— Punch, 

M.LQwyim. A BIRTHDAY BOOK. 
Arranged and Edited by M. L. 
GWYNN. Demy Bvo, I2J. 6d, 
This is a birthdaybook of exceptional 
dignityt aod the extracts have been 
chosen with particular care. 
The three passages for each day bear a 
certain relation to each other, and form 
a repertory of sententious wisdom from 
the best authors living or dead. 

Jobn BnnyiiL THE PILGRIM'S 
PROGRESS. By John Bunyan. 



Edited, with an Introdftction. by C. H. 
Firth. M.A. With 39 Illustrations 
by R. Anning Bell. Crown Bvo, 6s, 
• The best " Pilgrim's Progress."'— 

Educational Times. 
F.D. Bedford. NURSERY RHYMES. 
With many Coloured Pictures by F. 
D. Bedford. Sufer Royal Bvo, 5^. 
'An excellent selection of the best known 
rh3nne8, with beautifully coloured pic- 
tures exquisitely printed.'— />a// Mall 
Gautts. 
8. Bazlnc: Gkmld. A BOOK OF 
FAIRY TALES retold by S. Baring 
Gould. With numerous Illustra< 
tions and Initial Letters by Arthur 
J. Gaskin, Second Edition. Cr, Bvo. 
Buckram, 6s. 
* Mr. Baring Gould is deserving of grati- 
tude, in ze-writinff in simple style the 
old stories that dehghted our fathers and 
grandfathers.' — Saturday Review, 
8. Baring Ckrald. OLD ENGLISH 
FAIRY TALES. Collected and 
edited by S. Baring Gould. With 
Numerous Illustrations by F, D. 
Bedford. Second Edition, Cr, Bvo. 
Buckram, 6s. 

*A charming volume. '—^HMcniiMM. 
8. Bariziff Gould. A BOOK OF 
NURSERY SONGS AND 
RHYMES. Edited by S. Baring 
Gould, and Illustrated by the Bir- 
mingham Art School Buckram, gilt 
top. Crown Bvo, 6s, 
H. a Beeotainff. A BOOK OF 
CHRISTMAS VERSE. Edited by 
H. C. Bbeching, M.A., and Illus- 
trated by Walter Crank. Ck Bvo, 
gilt top, y, 6d, 

An anthology which) from its unity of aim 
and high poetic excellence, has a better 
right to exist than most of its fellows.'— 
Guardian, 



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FUnden Fetris. A HISTORY OF 

EGYPT,FROM TUB Earliest Times 

TO THE Present Day. Edited by 

W. M. Flinders Petrib, D.C.L., 

LL.D., Professor of Egyptology at 

University College. Fully Illustrated, 

In Six Volumts^ Cr, Svo, 6s, each. 

Vol. I. Prehistoric Times to 

XVlTH Dynasty. W. M. F. 

Petrie. Fourth Edition. 

Vol. II. The XVIIth and 

XVIIIth Dynasties. W. M. 

F. Petrie. Third Edition, 

Vol, IV. The Egypt of the 

Ptolemies. J. P. Mahaffy. 
Vol. V. Roman Egypt. J. G. 
MilDe. 

* A history written in the spirit of scientific 

precision so worthily represented by Dr. 
Petrie and his school cannot bnt pro- 
mote sound and accurate study, and 
supply a vacant place in the English 
literature of Egyptology.'— T'tmr^. 

nindan Petrie. RELIGION AND 
CONSCIENCE IN ANCIENT 
EGYPT. By W. M. Flinders 
Petrib, D.C. L. . LL. D. FuUy lUus- 
trated. Crown Svo. as, 6d. 

* The lectures will afford a fund of ▼aloable 

information for students of ancient 
tthic%.'^MmMchtsttr GMordian. 

FUndera Petrie. SYRIA AND 
EGYPT, FROM THE TELL EL 
AMARNA TABLETS. By W. M. 
Flinders Petrie, D.C.L., LL.D. 
Crown 8vo. 2S, 6d. 

* A maryellous record. The addition made 

to our knowledge is nothing short of 
amazing. '— Timtt. 

FlinderB Petrie. EGYPTIAN TALES. 

Edited by W. M. Flinders Petrie. 

Illustrated by Tristram Ellis. In 

Two Volumes, Cr, Svo. y, 6d. each. 

' Invaluable as a picture of life in Palestine 

and Egypt,'— Daily News. 

ninders Petne. EGYPTIAN DECO- 
RATIVE ART. By W. M. Flin- 
DERS Petrie. With 120 Illustrations. 
Cr, Svo, y, 6d, 

* In these lectures he displajrs rare skill in 

elucidatingthe development of decora- 
tive art in Kgypt. '— Timet. • 



History 



a W. Oman. A HISTORY or THE 
ART OF WAR. VoL u. : Ths 
Middle Am, from the Fourth to the 
Fourteenth Century. By C. W. 
Oman, M.A., Fellow of All Soob', 
Oxford. Illustrated. Demy 8«w. ais. 

* The book is based thioa^hoat upon a 

thoiou|rfa study of the anginal aocroes. 
and will be an indispensable aid to all 
students of mediavad history*' — Atie^ 
n^um, 
' The whole art of war in ks historic cveb- 
tion has never been treated on such as 
ample and comprehensive scale, and we 
question if any recent coBtrifaarioa to 
the exact hbtory of tba world has pos- 
sessed more enduring vahie.* — D^utj 
Chr^micU. 

& Barinc Oonld. TH£ TRAGEDY 
OF THE C£SARS. With nume- 
rous Illustrations from Busts, Gems, 
Cameos, etc By S. Barinc Gould. 
Fourth Edition, Royal Qvo, ly. 

* A most splendid and fasonating book oe s 

subject of undying interest. Thegieai 
feature of the book is the use the aatfaer 
has made of the existing portraits of 
the Caesars and the admirable critical 
subtlety he has exhiUted in dealing with 
this line of research. It is farilluatir 
written, and the illiastratioaa are sop- 
plied on a scale of profuse macnifioeaoe.' 
—DMfChromele. 
F. W. Kaltland. CANON LAW IN 
ENGLAND. By F. W. Maitlako. 
LL.D., Downing Professor of tbs 
Laws of England in the Universitj 
of Cambridge. Royal Svo. js. 6d. 

* Professor Maitland has put students d 

Engliih law under a fresh debt. These 
essays are landmarks in the study of tbc 
history of Canon Law.' — Tifmor. 
H. 4e B. OlbUns. INDUSTRY IN 
ENGLAND : HISTORICAL OUT- 
LINES. By H. DE a GiBBINS. 
Litt.D., M.A. With 5 Maps, ilf- 
eond Edition, Demy Svo. los. 6d. 
E. E. Egerton. A HISTORY OF 
BRITISH COLONIAL POLICY. 
By H. E. Egbrton, M.A. Demy 
Svo, las, 6d. 

It is a good book, distinguished by acca- 
racv in detail, clear arraiwemeDt of facts, 
and a brood grasp of priodples.'— 
Manchester Guardmn, 



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Albert Boi^L THE EASTERN 
QUESTION IN THE EIGH- 
TEENTH CENTURY. By Albert 
SOREL, of the French Academy. 
Translated by F. C. Bkamwell, 
M.A* With a Map. Cr.^vo, y.6d. 

0. H. Orinllnfl:. A HISTORY OF 
THE GREAT NORTHERN RAIL- 
WAY, 1845-05. By Charles H. 
Grinling. With Maps and IIlus- 
tratioDS. Demy Svo, 10s, 6d, 
* Mr. Grinling has done for a Railway what 
Macanlay did for English History.' — 
TJU Smginser, 

W. Sterxy- ANNALS OF ETON 
COLLEGE. By W. Sterry. M.A. 
With numerous Illustrations. Demy 
Svo, 7s. 6d. 
' A treasory of quaint and interesting read- 
ing. Mr. Sterry has hy his skill and 
vivadty given these xeonds new life.'— 
Acad§my- 

O.W.TUbMr. ANNALS OF SHREWS- 
BURY SCHOOL. By G. W. 
Fisher, M. A, late Assistant Master. 
With numerous Illustrations. Demy 
&U0, los. 6d, 
'This careful, erudite hooIc'—Z^Aii^ 

Ckrvmicie, 
*A hook of which Old Salofuansare sure 
to be proud.'— {^tfAc 

J.Bazgeaimt ANNALS OF WEST- 
MINSTER SCHOOL. By T. Sar- 
GEAUNT, M.A.« Assistant Master. 
With numerous Illustrations. Demy 
2/vo, 7J. 6d. 

A. Clark. THE COLLEGES OF 
OXFORD : Their History and their 
Traditions. By Members of the 
University. Edited by A Clark, 
M.A, Fellow and Tutor of Lincoln 
College. Zvo. 12s, 6tL 
'A work which will he appealed to for 



many yean at the standard book.'— 

T. K. Taylor. A CONSTITUTIONAL 
AND POLITICAL HISTORY OF 
ROME. By T. M. TAYLOR. M.A., 
Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, 
Cambridge, Senior Chancellor's 
Medallist for Classics, Porson Uni- 
versity Scholar, etc., etc. Crown 
8tw. 7i. 6d, 
* We ftilhjr recognise the value of this care- 
ftilly written work, and admire especially 
the iaimess and sobriety of his judgment 
and the human interest with which he 
has inspired a subject which in some 
hands becomes a mere series of cold 
abstractioos. It is a work that will be 
stimulating to the student of Roman 
history.'— i4 tkdHmum, 

J. Wella, A SHORT HISTORY OF 
ROME ^ J. Wells, M.A.. 
Fellow and Tutor of Wadham ColL, 
Oxford. Third Edition, With 3 
Maps. Crown Svo. y. 6d, 
This book is intended for the Middle and 
U^ier Forms of Public Schools and for 
Pass Stndenu at the Universities. It 
contains copious Tables, etc. 
*An original work written on an original 
plan, and with uncommo|i freshness and 
vigour. *—SptaJker, 

0. Brownlncr. A SHORT HISTORY 
OF MEDIAEVAL ITALY, A.D. 
1250-1530. By Oscar Browning, 
Fellow and Tutor of King's College, 
Cambridge. In Two Volumes, Cr» 
Svo, y. eaek. 
Vol. l 1250-1409. — Guelphs and 

Ghibellines. 
Vol. il 1409-1530.— The Age of 
the Condottieru 

(KGrady. THE STORY OF IRE- 
LAND. By Standish O'Grady. 
Author of ' Fmn and his Companions. 
Crown Svo, 25. 6d, 



ZACHARIAH OF MITYLENE 
Translated into English by F. J. 
Hamilton, D.D., and E. W. 
Brooks. Demy Svo. 12s. 6d, mt, 

EVAGRIUS. Edited by Professor 



Byzantine Texts 

Edited by J. B. Bury, M.A. 



L^ON Parmentibr and M. Bidbz. 
Demy Sifo. 10s, 6d, ml. 
THE HISTORY OF PSELLUS. 
By C. Sathas. Demy Svo. 151. 
net. 



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B. L. ttolTMUMB. THE LETTERS 
OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVEN- 
SON TO HIS FAMILY AND 
FRIENDa Selected and Edited, 
with Notes and Introductions, by 
Sidney Colvin. Third Edition. 
Demy 8i«, 2 vols,, 25*. net 

* Irresistible in their raciness, their variety, 

their animation ... of extfaordinary 
fascination. A delightfnl inheritance, 
the truest record of a *' richly 00m- 
poanded spirit" chat the Htaratuia of 
our time has preserved.'— 7*fiMCf. 
'There are few books so interesting* so 
moviDff, and so valuable as this collec- 
tion ofletters. One can only commend 
people to read and re-read the book. The 
volumes are beautiful, and Mr. Cdvin's 

Crt of the woric could not hsve been 
tter done, his introduction is a master- 
piece.'— kS>icto^9r. 
J. a MUlali. THE LIFE AND 
LETTERS OF SIR JOHN 
EVERETT MILLAIS. President of 
the Royal Academy. By his Son, 
J. G. MiLLAis. With 319 Illus- 
trations, of which are in Photo- 
gravure. Second Edition, 2 vols. 
Royal Zvo, 32J. net, 
' Of unusual interest and charm, as manly, 
unaffected, and simple, as was Millais 
himself.'— /?«</f Chronicle, 

* The illustrations make the book delightful 

to handle or to read. The eye lingers 
lovingly upon the beautiful pictures.'— 
Simndard, 

* This charming book is a gold mine of good 

things.'— Z^ifVjr J\^ews. 
' This splendid work.'— H^orU, 
'Deserves an honoured place on every 

bookshelf.'— /*«// Afa/l Gazette, 
' Of such ahun-bing interest is it, of such 
c»m|>leteness in scope and beauty. 
Special tribute must ne paid to^ the 
extraordinary completeness of the illus- 
trations.* — Graphic. 
a Baring Ckrald. THE LIFE OF 
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. By 
S. Baring Gould. With over 450 
Illustrations in the Text and 12 
Photogravure Plates. Large quarto. 
Gilt top, 36X. 
' The main feature of this gorgeous vohime 
is its great wealth of beautiful photo- 
gravures and finely • executed wood 
engravings, constituting a complete 



Biography 



pictorial chronicle of Napol«on I.'s 
personal history from thedays ofhis early 
childhood at Ajacdo to the date of his 
second interment.'— 2>A(r TeUgrm^ 

P. a CdlomhL MEMOIRS OF AD- 
MIRAL SIR A. COOPER KEY. 
By Admiral P. H. Colomb. With 
a Portrait. Demy Stw. i6j. 

MorriB FnllMr. THE LIFE AND 
WRITINGS OF JOHN DAVEN- 
ANT, D.D. {1571-1641). Bishop of 
Salisbury. By Morris Fuller. 
B.D. Demy^vo. 10s. 6d, 

J. K. Bigg. ST. ANSELM OF 
CANTERBURY: A Chapter in 
THE History op Religion. By 
J. M. RiGG. Demy Svo, js, 6d* 

P. W. Joyce. THE LIFE OF 
SIR FREDERICK GORE OUSE- 
LEY, ByF.W.JoTCE.M.A 7s, 6d. 

W, O. (Mliagwood. THE LIFE OF 
JOHN RUSKIN. By W. G. 
COLLINGWOOD, M.A With Por- 
traits, and 13 Drawings by Mr. 
Ruskin. Second Edition, a vols. 

' It is long since we had a biognphy with 
such delights of substanca and of form. 
Such a hook is a pleasure for the day, 
and a joy for cnx.'-^Daily CkromkU. 

0. Waldoteln. JOHN RUSKIN. Bf 
Charles Waldstein, M.A With 
a Photogravure Portrait, PostBvo, y- 

A K. F. Daxmesteter. THE LIFE 
OF ERNEST RENAN. Bv 
Madame Darmesteter. With 
Portrait. Second Edition, Cr. 8w. 6s. 

W. H. Hntton. THE LIFE OF SIR 
THOMAS MORE. By W. H. 
Hutton, M.A With Portraits. 
Second Edition. Cr, Bvo, y. 

* The book lays good claim to mgh raak 
among our bio^phics. It isezcelleody, 
gly, written.'- " 



8. Barinc: Ckrald. THE VICAR OF 
MORWENSTOW: A Biography. 
By S. Baring Gould, M.A A 
new and Revised Edition. With 
Portrait. Crown 8vo. %s, 6d, 
A completely new edition of the well known 
biography of R. S. Hawker. 



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Travel, Adventure and Topography 



gTVnHedliL THROUGH ASIA. By 
SvKN Hedin, Gold Medallist of the 
Royal Geographical Society. With 
300 Illustrations from Sketches 
and Photographs by the Author, 
and Maps. ^vols. Royal ^vo, 20s.net, 
'One of the ^eatest books of the kind 
issued dnnng the centnry. It is im* 
possible to give an adequate idea of the 
richness of the contents of this book, 
nor of its abounding attractions as a story 
of travel unsurpassed in geographical 
and human interest. Macn of it is a 
revelation. Altogether the work is one 
which in solidityi novelty, and interest 
must take a first rank among publica- 
tions of iu class. '^Timts. 

F. E. Skrlne and B. D. Boas. THE 

HEART OF ASIA. By F. H. 
Skkinb and E D. Ross. With 
Maps and many Illustrations by 
Verestchagin. Lar^e Crown Bvo, 
los. 6d, neL 
' Thb volume will form a landmark in our 
knowledge of Central Asia. . . . Illumin- 
ating and convincing. For the first 
time we are enabled clearly to under- 
stand not only how Russia has estab- 
lished hor rule in Central Asia, but 
what that rule actually means to the 
Central Asian peoples. This book is 
not only Jklix o44ariunit4it€i but of 
enduring ^ue.' — Timet, 

B.B. Peary. NORTHWARD OVER 
THE GREAT ICE. By R.E. Peary. 
Gold Medallist of the Koyal Geogra- 
phical Society. With over 800 ifius- 
trations. 2 vols. Royal Bvo. ^2s,net. 
* His book will take ttsplace among the^r- 
manent literature 01 Arctic exploration.' 
—Times, 

R A. FitaOarald. THE HIGHEST 
ANDES. By E A. FitzGerald. 
With 2 Maps, 51 Illustrations, 13 of 
which are in Photogravure, and a 
Panorama. Royal Bvo, 30;. ntl. 
Also a Small Edition on Hand-made 
Paper, limited to 50 Copies, 4/0, 

' We have nothing but praise for Mr. Fitz- 
Gerald's admirable narrative. A book 
which is not only popular in the best 
sense of the word, but is a permanent 
and solid contribution to the literature 
of mountaineering. ' — Times. 

A 



* The record of the first ascent of the highest 
mountain yet conquered by raoftal man. 
A volume which will continue to be the 
classic book of travel on this region of 
the Andes. The photographs are ad- 
mirablv reproduced, and the book is got 
up with a care and finish worthy ofso 
great a subject.'— -Dai^ Ckrenicle, 
P. W. GbXistiaa. THE CAROLINE 

ISLANDS. By F. W. Christian. 

With many Illustrations and Maps. 

Demy Bvo. jos. 6d, net 
' A real contribution to our knowledge of 
the peoples and islands of Micronesia, 
as well as fascinating as a narrative of 
travels and sAwttitaxt.' —Scotsman, 

H. H. Jolmaton. BRITISH CEN- 
TRAL AFRICA By Sir H. H. 
Johnston, K.C.B. With nearly 
Two Hundred Illustrations, and Six 
Maps. Second Edition, Crown ^o, 
zBs. net, 
'A fasdnating book, written with equal 
skill and charm — the work at once of a 
literary artist and of a man of action 
who is singularly wise. Ivave, and ex- 
perienced. It abounos in admirable 
AtXchies.' —Westminster Gazette, 
L. Dede. THREE YEARS IN 
SAVAGE AFRICA By Lionel 
Decle. With 100 Illustrations and 
5 Maps. Second Edition, Demy Bvo, 
10s. 6d, net, 
' Its bright pages rive a better general 
survey of Africa from the Cape to the 
Equator than any sinele volume that 
has yet been published. —TtM/r. 

A. Raima Baamaa. TWENTY 
YEARS IN THE NEAR EAST. 
By A. HuLME Beaman. Demy 
Bvo, With Portrait, los, 6d. 

HanrlofOrlaana. FROM TONKIN 
TO INDIA. By Prince Henri op 
Orleans. Translated by Hamley 
Bent, M.A With zoo Illustrations 
and a Map. Cr, 4/0. gilt top, 25s. 

8. L mnda. THE FALL OF THE 
CONGO ARABS. ByS. L. Hinde. 
With Plans, etc. Demy Bvo. 12s, 6d. 

A Bt S. Oibbong. EXPLORATION 
AND HUNTING IN CENTRAL 
AFRICA. By Major A. St. H. 
Gibbons. With full-page lUustra- 

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tions by C. Whtmper, and Maps. 
Demy Stw. 15;. 
TtSMr. ROUND THE WORLD 
ON A WHEEL. By John Foster 
Frascr. With TOO Illustrations. 
Crown 8tw. 6f. 
' The story is told with delightful gaiety, 
humour, aod crispness. There has rarely 
appeared a more interesting tale of 
modem travel. ' — Scottman, 
* A classic of cycling, graphic and witty.' — 

Yorkskirt Jp9st. 
B. L. JeflteMn. A NEW RIDE TO 
KHIVA. By R. L. J EPPERSON. 
Illustrated. Crtntm Zvo, 6s. 
The account of an adventurous ride on a 
hicyde through Russia and the deserts 
of Asia to Khiva. 
'An exceptionally fascinating book of 
travel'— />«// Maii GoMtttt. 

J. K. Trotter. THE NIGER 
SOURCES. By Colonel J. K. 
Trotter, R.A. With a Map and 
Illustrations. Crown Svo. y. 

Wohael D&Titt. LIFE AND PRO- 
GRESS in AUSTRALASIA. By 
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* The translation is an excellent piece of 
English, and the introduction is a mas- 
terly expkosition. We augur well of a 

series which begins so satis&ctorily ' 

Times. 



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THE CHRISTIAN YEAR. By John 

Keble. With Introduction and 

Notes by Walter Lock, D.D., 

Warden of Keble CoUege, Ireland 

Professor at Oxford. 

' The voltune u very prettily bound and 

printed, and may fairly claim to be an 

advance on any previous editions.' — 

Guardian, 

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST. A 
Revised Translation, with an Introduc- 
tion, by C. Bigg, D.D., late Student 
of Christ Church. Second Edition, 
A practically new translation of this book, 
which the reader h£us, almost for the first 
time, exactly in the shape in which it 
left uie hands of the author. ^ 
*A nearer approach to the original than 
has yet existed in English.' — Academy . 

A BOOK OF DEVOTIONS. By J. 
W. Stanbridgb, B.D., Rector of 
Sainton, Canon of York, and some- 
time Fellow of St. John's College, 
Oxford. 



It is probably^ the best book of its kind. It 
deserves high commendation. '>-CAi»rcA 
Gasettt. 

LYRA INNOCENTIUM. By John 
Kbble. Edited, with Introduction 
and Notes, by Walter Lock, D.D., 
Warden of Keble College, Oxford. 

A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT 
AND HOLY LIFE. By William 
Law. Edited, with an Introduction, 
by C. Bigg, D.D.» late Student of 
Christ Church. 
This is a reprbt, word for word and line for 
Uine, of toe EdiHo Princess, 

THE TEMPLE. By George Her- 
bert. Edited, with an Introduction 
and Notes, by E. C. S. Gibson, 
D.D., Vicar of^Leeds. 
This edition contains Walton's Life of 
Herbert, and the text is that of the first 
edition. 
' As neat and desirable an edition of the 
work as can be fcnxDA,*—Scotsman, 



Xeadete of 'Religion 

EditedbyH.C.BEECHING,M.A, WUk Portraits, Crown %w, y,6d, 

A series of short biographies of the most prominent leaders of religious 
life and thought of all ages and countries. 

The following are ready — 
CARDINAL NEWMAN. By R. H. 

HUTTON. 

JOHN WESLEY. By J. H. Over- 
ton, M.A. 
BISHOP WILBERFORCE By G. 

W. Daniell, M.A 
CARDINAL MANNING. By A W. 

HUTTON, M.A 
CHARLES SIMEON. By H. C. G. 

MOULE, D.D. 
JOHN KEBLE By Walter LOCK. 

D.D. 
THOMAS CHALMERS. By Mrs. 

Oliphant. 
LANCELOT ANDREWES. By R. 

X.. Ottley, M.A 



AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY. 

By E. L. Cirrrs, D.D. 
WILLIAM LAUD. By W. H. 

HUTTON, B.D. 
JOHN KNOX. By F. MacCunn. 
JOHN HOWE By R. F. HoRTON, 

D.D. 
BISHOP KEN. By F. A Clarke, 

M.A 
GEORGE FOX, THE QUAKER, 

By T. HODGKIN, D.C.L. 
JOHN DONNE By Augustus 



By. A J. 



jEssopp, D.D. 
THOMAS CRANMER. 

Mason. 
BISHOP LATIMER. By R. M. Car- 

LYLE and A. J. Carlyle, M. A 



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Fiction 



• IX SHILLINQ NOVELS 

Marie OoreUi's NoTels 

Crown 8cw. 6s. each. 



A ROMANCE OF TWO WORLDS. 
NinOeentk Editiom. 

VENDETTA Fi/ieenih Edition. 

THELMA. Twenty-Jirse Edition. 

ARDATH: THE STORY OF A 
DEAD SELF. Eleventh EdiHon. 

THE SOUL OF LILITH. Ninth 
Edition^ 

WORMWOOD. Ninth Edition. 

BARABBAS : A DREAM OF THE 
WORLDS TRAGEDY, Thirty- 
fourth Edition. 

* The tendtr revereoos of the treatment 
and the iinagiiuuive beeoty of the writ- 
ing have reconciled as to the daring of 
the conception, and the conviction is 
ioroedoo tts that even to exalted a lub- 
ject cannot be made too familiar to us. 



provided it be presented in thetme sprit 
of Christian faith. The amplificanona 
of the Scripture narratiTe are often coo* 
ceived witn high poetic insight, and this 
"Dream of the World's Tragedy** is 
a lofby and not inadequate na r a |fli r asf 
of the supreme climax of the inspired 
nanative.'— ZHi3iin» Review, 

THE SORROWS OF SATAN. 
Forty-first Edition, 
* A very powerful piece of wotlc . . . The 
conce p tion is magnificent, and is likely 
to win an abidmg place within the 
menuMyof man. . . . The author has 
immense command of language and a 
limitless audacity. . . . This interesting 
and remarkable romance will live long 
after much of the ephemeral literature 
of the day is forgotten. ... A literary 
phenomenon . . . novel, and even sab- 
lime.'— W. T. Stbad In the Reoiem 
o/Reviewt. 



Antlumy Hope's Norelfl 

Crown Siv. 6f . auh. 



THE GOD IN THE CAR. Eighth 

Edition. 
*A very remarkable book, deserving of 
critical analysis impossible within our 
limit; brilliant, but not superficial; 
well conudered, but not elaborated; 
constructed .with the proverbial art that 
conceals, but vet allows itself to be 
ei^oyed oy reaoers to whom fine literary 
method b a keen pleasure.*— The Werld. 

A CHANGE OF AIR. Fifth Edition. 
*A graceful, vtvadons comedy, true to 
human nature. The chancten are 
traced with a masterly hand.'— TYmm. 

A MAN OF MARK. Fifth Edition. 

*0f all Mr. Hope's books, "A Man of 

Msirk" is the one which best compares 

with "The Prisoner of Zenda."'— 

NatieneU Ohstrver, 



THE CHRONICLES OF COUNT 
ANTONIO. Fourth Edition. 

' It is a perfectly enchanting story of love 
and chivalry, and pure romance. The 
Count u the most constant, desperate, 
and modest and tender of lovers, a peer- 
less gentleman, an intrepid fighter, a 
faithful friend, and a magnanimous foe.* 
—G umrdian , 



PHROSO. 
MiLLAK. 



Ilhistrated by 
Fourth Edition. 



H. R. 



*The tale is thoroughly firesh, quack with 
vitality, stirring the blood. *~»?/. /mmus's 
GmutU. 

(From cover to cover "Phroso** not only 
engages the attention, but carries tlw 
reader in little whirls of delight from 
adventure to adventure.'— yfoMKMry. 



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SIMON DALE. 
Edition. 



Illustrated. TAirti 



' A brilliant novel. The story i» rapid and 
most excellently told. As for the hero, 
iie is a perfect hero of romance '~ 

AtAtlUttt9H» 

*There is seardiing analysb of hnman 
natore, with a most ingeniously con- 
structed plot. Mr. Hope has drawn the 
contrasts of hb women with marvellous 
subtlety and delicacy. '~7¥mwx. 



THE KING'S MIRROR. TAird 
Bdiiion. 

* In elegance, delicacy, and tact it ranks 

with the best of his novels, while in the 
wide range of its j^ortraiture and the 
subtilty of its analysis it surpasses all his 
earlier ventures. ^--Spectator, 

* A work of art, and of good art,'— 7V»w*. 
***The King's Mizror" u a strong book, 

charged with close analysb and exqubite 
irony ; a book fiiU of pathos and moral 
fibr e in short, a book to be read.'— 
Daily Chronicle. 



Gilbert Parker's NovelB 

CrcwH Sfv. dr. nuh. 



PIERRE AND HIS PEOPLE. 
Fifth BdiHoH. 

* Stories happily ooooeivcd and finely ex- 

ecuted. There b strength and genius in 
Mr. Parker's style.'— i7«i(r Tikgra^ 

MRS. FALCHION. Fourth Edition. 

* A splendid study of character.'— 

AthttuntiH. 
'A very striking and admirable noveU'— 
St. Janus' s GoMetU. 

THE TRANSLATION OF A 
SAVAGE. 
*The plot is original and one difficult to 
work out ; but Mr. Parker has done it 
with great skill and delicacy. The 
reader who b not interested in thb 
original, fresh, and weU*told tale must 
be a dull person indeed.'— 

DttUy Chronicle. 

THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD. 

Illustrated. Sixth Edition. 
' A rousing and dramatic tale. A book like 
this, in which swords flash, f^reat sur- 
prises are undertaken, and dann|; deeds 
donCj in which men and women live and 
love m the old passionate wav, b a joy 
inexpressible.'— i7«iXr Chromck. 
WHEN VALMOND CAME TO 
PONTIAC: The Story of a Lost 
Napoleon. Fourth Edition. 
'Here we find romance — real, breathing, 
living romance. The character of V^- 
mond b drawn unerringly. The book 
must be read, we may 'say re>read, for 
any one thoroughly to appreciate Mr. 
Pvker's delicate touch ami innate sym> 
pathy with humaaity.' — P«/f Mmil 
Guutte. 



AN ADVENTURER OF THE 

NORTH : The Last Adventures of 

• Pretty Pierre.' Second Edition. 

' The present book is full of fine and mov* 

ing stories df the great North, and it 

will add to Mr. Parker's already high 

reputation.'— ^/«^v«v HenUd, 

THE SEATS OF THE MIGHTY. 
Illustrated. Tenth Edition. 
' Mr. Parker seems to become stronger and 
easier with evenr serious novel that he 
attempts. He snows the matured power 
which hb former novels have led us to 
expect, and has produced a really fine 
hbtorical noyntV— Athenaeum. 
* A great hook.*— Blnch nnd tThiU. 

THE POMP OF THE LAVILET- 
TES. Second Edition, y. 6d. 
'Living, breathing romance, genuine and 
unforced pathos, and a deeper and more 
subtle knowledge of human nature than 
Mr. Parker hu ever dbplayed before. 
It is, in a word, the work of a true artist.' 
—Pali Mall Gaaette. 

THE BATTLE OF THE STRONG : 

a Romance of Two Kingdoms. 

Illustrated. Fourth Edition. 

' Nothing more vigorous or more human has 

come from Mr. Gilbert Parker than thb 

novel. It has all the graidiic power of 

hb last book, with truer feeling for the 

romance, both of human life and wild 

nature. There b no character without its 

unioue and picturesque interest. Mr. 

Parker's style^ especially hb descriptive 

style, has in this book, perhanaeven more 

than elsewhere, aptness ana vitality.'— 

Literature. 



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8. Baring Gonld's NoToIfl 

Crown $vc, &s, each. 

'To say that a book is by the author of "Mehalah* is to imply that it contains a 
story cast on strong lines, containing dramatic possibilities, virid and sympathetic descrip- 
tions of Nature, and a wealth of ingenious imagery. '— >S> tfai»r . 

' That whaterer Mr. Baring Gould writes is well worth reading, is a conclusion that may 
be^ very generally accepted. His views of life are fresh and vigorous, his l an g u ag e 
pointed and characteristic, the incidents of whidi he makes use are striking and original, 
his characters are life-like, and though somewhat exceptional people, are drawn and 
coloured with artistic force. Add to thu that his descriptions of scenes and scencnr are 
painted with the loving eyes and skilled hands of a master of hb art. that he is alwa]^* 
fresh and never dull, and it is no wonder that raaders have gainea confidence in his 
power of amusing and satisfying them, and that year by year his popularity widens. *-~ 



C^rt Circuimr. 

ARMINELL. Fourth Edition. 

URITH. Fifth Edition. 

IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA. 

Sixth Edition, 
MRS. CURQENVEN OF CURGEN- 

VEN. Fourth Edition. 
CHEAP JACK 2ITA. Fourth Edition. 
THE QUEEN OF LOVE. Fourth 

Edition. 
MARGERY OF QUETHER. Third 

Edition. 
JACQUETTA. Third Edition. 
KITTY ALONE. Fifth Edition. 



NOI^MI. Illustrated. Fourth Edition. 

THE BROOM^QUIRE. lUustrated. 
Fourth Edition. 

THE PENNYCOMEQUICKS. 
Third Edition. 

DARTMOOR IDYLLS. 

GUAVAS THE TINNER. Illus- 
trated. Second Edition. 

BLADYS. Illustrated. Second Edition. 

DOMITIA- lUustrated. Second Edi- 
tion, 
PABO THE PRIEST. 



Conan Doyle. ROUND THE RED 
LAMP. By A CoNAN Doyle. 
Sixth Edition, Crown Svo. dr. 
The ioook a far and away the best view 
that has been vouchsafed us behind the 
soenes of the consulting>room. '»-///«»- 
irmted London News, 
Btaoley W^ynum. UNDER THE 
RED ROBE. By Stanley Wey- 
MAN, Author of 'A Gentleman of 
France.' With Illustrations by R. C. 
WOODVILLE. Fifteenth Edition. 
Crown Bvo. 6s. 
* Every one who reads books at all must 
read this thrilling romance, from the 
first page of which to the last the breath- 
less reader is haled along. An inspira- 
tion of manlinffwa and courage.'— i7«c/y 
Chronitle. 

Lncas Malet. THE WAGES OF 
SIN. By Lucas Malet. Thir- 
teenth Edition, Crown Svo. 6s. 

Lucas llalet. THE CARISSIMA. 
By Lucas Malet, Author of ^The 



Third Edition. 



Wages of Sin,* etc 
Croion Bvo. 6s. 
George Olasliifir. THE TOWN TRA- 
VELLER. By George Gissing. 
Author of ' Demos.' ' In the Year of 
Jubilee,' etc. Second Edition, Cr. 
Bvo. 6s. 
'It is a bright and witty book above all 
things. Folly Sparkes is a splendid bit 
of wor)c.'—PaIi Mall GaxetU. 
' The spirit of Dickens is in it.' — Bookman. 

George Glasiiiff. THE CROWN OF 
LIFE. By George Gissing, Author 
of ' Demos,' * The Town Ttttveller.* 
etc. Crown Bvo. 6s. 

* Mr. Gissing is at his htst.'— Academy. 
' A fine novd.'— 0«/A»fl*. 

' We axe looking upon life itself.'— J[>ai/^ 

News, 

B. R. OroclMtt LOCHINVAR. By 

S. R. Crockett, Author of *The 

Raiders,' etc. Illustrated. Second 

Edition. Croton Bvo. 65. 

* Full of gallantry and pathos, of the clash 



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of amis, and brightened by episodei of 
humour and love. . . ,*^W€stmimUr 
GoMtiU. 
8. R. Crockett THE STANDARD 
BEARER. By S. R. Crockett. 
Crown Zvo. 6s. 
'A delightful ta]e.'S/*4iJkgr. 
' Mr. Crockett at his beat.'-^Liiefnturt. 
AxtHxa HorriBon. TALES OF 
MEAN STREETS. By Arthur 
Morrison. Fifth Edition, Cr, 
8vo, 6s, 
*ToId with consummate art and extra- 
ordinary deuil. In the true humanity 
of the book lies its justification, the 
permanence of its interest, and its in- 
dubitable triumph.' — Atfuiueum. 
'A great book. The author's method is 
amazingly effective, and produces a 
thrilling sense of reality. The writer 
lajrs upon us a master hand. The book 
is simply appalling and irresistible in 
its interest. It b humorous also ; with- 
out humour it would not make the nuurk 
it is certain to mtk^* eWorld, 

Artbur Horrlson. A CHILD OF 
THE JAGO. By Arthur Morri- 
son. Third Edition, Cr. Bvo. 6s. 
' The book is a masterpiece.'— /'a// Afc// 

GOMttt. 

* Told with great vigour and powerful sim- 

plicity.'— i4 tktmtum. 

Artlmr Morrlsoo. TO LONDON 

TOWN. By Arthur Morrison. 

Author of 'Tales of Mean Streets,' 

etc. Second Edition. Crown Bvo. 6s. 

* We have idyllic pictures, woodland scenes 

full of tenderness and Grace. . . . This 
is the new Mr. Arthur Morrison gracious 
and tender, sympathetic and human.' — 
Dat/y Teleg^raph. 

'The easy swing of detail proclaims the 
master of his subject and the artist in 
rendering. ' — Pall Mall Gazette. 

' Mr. Morrison has broken new ground with 

admirable success. . . . Excellently 

written and artistically sincere.'— Z?«i^ 

Mail. 

H. ButbexlaiLd. ONE HOUR AND 

THE NEXT. By The Duchess 

OF Sutherland. Third Edition. 

Crown Bvo. 6s. 

•As a piece of literary work this book 
stands high. It is written by one who 
has drawn some deep breaths of the 
divine a^tm.'^M.A.P. 

' t*assionate, vivid, dTaxaUdc'—Literatufe. 

* It possesses marked Qualities, descriptive, 

and imaginative.'— iif<9rMtM|f Feet. 



'The work of a refined, thousbtlal, and 

cultivated mvad.'—Brtiish Weekly. 
Krs. Clifford. A FLASH OF 
SUMMER. By Mrs. W. K. Clif- 
ford, Author of 'Aunt Anne,' etc. 
Second Edition. Crown Bvo. 6s. 
' The story is a very beautiful one, exquis- 
itely told.'— 5>^ai^. 
Emily Lawless. HURRISH. By the 
Honble. Emily Lawless, Author of 
•Maelcho,'etc. Fifth Edition. Cr. 
Bvo, 6s. 
Bmilj Lawless. MAELCHO : a Six- 
teenth Century Romance. By the 
Honble. Emily Lawless. Second 
Edition. Crown Bvo. 6s. 
* A really great hook.'—S^tater. 
'One of the most remarkable literary 
achievements of this generation.'— ilf«is- 
chetter GnatxHaM. 
Emily Lawless. TRAITS AND 
CONFIDENCES. By the Honble. 
Emily Lawless. Crown Bvo. 6s. 
Eden mmpotts. THE HUMAN 
BOY. By Eden Phillpotts, Author 
of • Children of the Mist.' With a 
Frontispiece. Fourth Edition. Crown 
Bvo. 6j. 
' Mr. Phillpotts knows exactly what school* 
boys do, and can lay bare their inmost 
thoughts ; likewise he shows an all-per- 
vading sense of humour.' — Academy. 
' An unrestrained fund of humour ripples 

through every page.' — World. 
'Described with delightful spirit and 
humour.' — Tntth. 
E. W. Hornnncr. THE AMATEUR 
CRACKSMAN. By E. W. HOR- 
NUNG. Ctaruin Bvo. 6s. 
' An audaciously entertaining volume.' — 

Spectator. 
' Fascinating and entertaining in a supreme 
degree.'— i7ai^ Mail. 

Jane Barlow. A CREEL OF IRISH 
STORIES. By Jane Barlow, 
Author of ' Irish Idylls.' Second 
Edition, Crown 8tv. 6s, 
* Vivid and singularly real.' — Scotsman. 

Jane Barlow. FROM THE EAST 
UNTO THE WEST. By Jane 
Bablow. Crown Bvo. 6s. 

llr8.Caflyn. ANNE MAULEVERER. 
E^ Mrs. Cappyn (Iota), Author of 
' The Yellow Aster.' Second Edition. 
Crown Bvo. 6s. 



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Itwlft. SIREN CITY. By 

Bciiri AMIK Swift. Author of ' Nancy 

Noon.* Crown Bvo, 6s, 

' '* Siren City " is certainly his best book, 

and it is toe work of a strong man. It 

has sobriety, not only of manner, but of 

spirit.' — Academy. 

J. H. Flndlftter. THE GREEN 
GRAVES OF BALGOWRIE. By 
Jane H. Findlater. FourtA 
Edition, Crown 8tv. 6s, 
' A u ow eifu l and rivid stary.*-^immdmrd. 
' A oeaotifnl story, sad ana ttntngt as tmth 
itself. '^Kmm/^ Fair, 

* A Tery charming and pathetic talt»^^Pall 

MaUGoMttU, 
' A singnlarly original, de^er, and beantifnl 

story.'— &iHin&«. 
' Rereals to ns a new writer of nndonbted 

faculty and reaerre force.'— £^/««»r. 
' An exquisite idyll, delicate, affecting, and 

beautiAiL'— ^AkA and WhiU^ 

J. H. nadlater. A DAUGHTER 
OF STRIFE. By Jane Helen 
Findlater. Crown Svo. 6s, 

J. H. Findlater. RACHEL. By 
Jane H. Findlater. Second 
Edition, Crown Svo, 6s. 
' A not un worth Y successor to " The Green 
Graves of Baiigowrie." *-^ritic. 

Findlater. OVER THE 
HILLS. By Mary Findlater. 
Second Edition, Cr, Bpo. 6s. 
' A strong and wise book of deep insight and 
unflinching txvah,'—Birmi^gMam Post. 

Hazy Findlater. BETTY MUS- 
GRAVE. By Mary Findlater. 
Second Edition, Crown Svo. 6s, 

* Handled with dignity and delicacy. . . . 

A most touching stacy.'— Spectator. 

Alfred Qlllvant. OWD BOB, THE 

GREY DOG OF KENMUIR. By 

Alfred Ollivant. Second Edition, 

Cr, Svo, 6s. 

'Weird, thrilling, strikingly graphic'— 

Punch. 
'We admire this book. . . . Itisonetoread 
with admiration and to praise with en- 
thuriasm.' — BocJhnan. 
' It is a line, open-air, blood-stirring book, 
to be ei\joyed by every man and woman 
to whom a dog is dtax.'-^Literaturf. 

B. K. Oioker. PEGGY OF THE 
BARTONS. By B. M. Crokkr, 



■^i 



Author of 'Diana Bairington.' 
Fourth EdiOom, Crown Svo, 6s. 
Mrs. Croker excels in the admirably rimple, 
easy, and direct flow of her narrative, die 
briskness of her dialogue, and the geni- 
ality of her portraiture.'— >^^«ctoilpr. 
1UX7 L. Pendered. AN ENGLISH- 
MAN. By Mary L. Pendered. 
Crown Svo, 6s. 
'Her book is most healthy in tone, and 
leaves a pleasant taste m the month.'— 
Pail Mail GoMctU. 
' A very noble book. 1 1 is filled with wisdom 

and sympathy.*— Littrary IV&rld. 
' At once sound and diverting.'— yfca^fiMy. 
Violet Hunt. THE HUMAN IN- 
TEREST. By Violet Hunt, 
Author of *A Hard Woman,' etc. 
Crown Svo. 6s, 

* Clever observation and unfailing wit.'— 

Academy. 

* The insight is keen, the Irony is deli- 

cate.' — World, 
A. J. DawBon. DANIEL WHYTE. 
By A. J. Dawson, Author of 
' Bismillab.' Crown 9vo. 6s. 
'A strong and interesting story.'— JfoM- 

chester Guardian. 
' Alive with incident.*— (^Ampvar Herald. 
tt a. Wella. THE STOLEN BA- 
CILLUS, and other Stories. By 
H. G. Wells. Second Edition. 
Crown Bvo, 6s. 

* They are the impresrioosof a verystriking 

imagination, which, it would seem, has 
a great deal within itsreadL*— %Sk/irri^r 

H. a. wiUi. THE PLATTNER 
STORY AND Others. By H. G. 
Wells. Second Edition. Cr, Svo. 
6s, 

* Weiid and raysterioos, they seem to hold 

the reader as by a magic spell.' — Scott- 

SaraJeanaftteDnncuL A VOYAGE 
OF CONSOLATION. By Sara 
Jeannbtte Duncan, Author of ' An 
American Girl in London.' Illus- 
trated. Third Edition. Cr. Svo. 6s. 
'A most delightfully bright hook.*— Daify 

ToUrra^ 
The dialogue is fiill of wit.'— <;M#. 
'Laughter lurks in every page.'— IMl^ 
Newt. 

Baxa Jeaanefete Dnnoas. THE PATH 
OF A STAR. By Sara Jsannsttb 
Duncan, Author of ' A Voyage of 



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Consolation.' Illustrated. Second 
Edition, Crown Svo. 6s, 

* Richness and follncss of local colouring. 

brilliancy of style, smiting phrases, and 
the display of very pretty numoor are 
graces which are here in profusion. The 
interest xiKyvz(isig&.'^Pa£i MaiiGoMeitg. 
0. P. Keary. THE JOURNALIST. 
By C. F. Keary. Cr, 8w. 6s, 

* It is rare indeed to find such poetical sym- 

pathy with Nature joined to close study 
of duuracter and singularly truthful dia- 
logue : but then ** The Journalist " is 
altogether a rare hook.'— A tMenanm. 

E. P. Benson. DODO : A DETAIL 
OF THE DAY. By E. F. Benson. 
Sixteenth Edition, Cr, Bvo, 6s, 
' A perpetual feast of epigram and paradox.' 
-Shaker, 
E. P. Benson. THE VINTAGE. By 
E, F. Benson. Author of 'Dodo.' 
Illustrated by G. P. Jacomb-Hood. 
Third Edition, Crown Bvo, 6s, 
' Full of fire, earnestness, and beauty.'— 
The World, 
E. P. Benaon. THE CAPSINA. By 
E. F. Benson, Author of 'Dodo.' 
With Illustrations by G. P. Jacomb- 
HOOD. Second Edition, Cr.Bvo. 6s. 

* The story moves through an atmosphere 

of heroism and adventure.'— iVaMcAtff/^ 
Giutrdi4Ut, 
W.B.NorrlB. MATTHEW AUSTIN. 
By W. E. NoRRis, Author of ' Made- 
moiselle de Mersac,' etc. Fourth 
Edition, Crown Bvo. 6s, 
*An intellectually satisfactory and mondly 
bracing noreX.'— Daily TeUiraph. 
W.E.NorriB. HIS GRACE. By W. E. 
NORRIS. Third Edition. Cr. Bvo, 6s. 

W. B. Honrts. THE DESPOTIC 
LADY AND OTHERS. By W. E. 
NORRIS. Crown Bvo. 6s. 
W. RNorriB. CLARISSA FURIOSA. 
By W. E. NoRRis. Cr, 8w. 6j. 
' As a story it is admirable, as 9^jeu de^rit 
it is capital, as a lay sermon studded 
with gems of wit and wisdom it is a 
model.'— rA^ World. 
W.B.HonlL GILES INGILBY. By 
W. E. NoRRiS. Illustrated, Second 
Edition, Crown Bvo, 6s. 
'Clever, bright, and entertaining.'— 
Vaniiy Fair, 

* We meet real men and wixtoitn'Speaker, 
' Interestins, wholesome, and charmingly 

written. W^/off^w Herald. 



W. COark BnaieU. MY DANISH 
SWEETHEART. By W. Clark 
Russell. Illustrated, Fourth 
Edition, Crown Bvo, 6s, 
Bobert Barr. IN THE MIDST OF 
ALARMS. By Robert Barr. 
Third Edition, Cr, Bvo, 6s, 
*A book which has abundantly satisfiod us 
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*Mr. Barr nas achieved a triumph.'— /*«// 
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THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. By 

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TRUSTS. POOLS AND CORNERS. 
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